Monday, May 30, 2011

Cointegrated at the Hips

Spring is sprung and wedding season is fast approaching. Indeed, some couples have already taken the plunge this Spring. On 28 April, the day before Will and Kate got hitched (sorry - before the Royal nuptials of  Prince William and Catherine Middleton), The Economist magazine's Daily Chart showed the average age at first marriage for males and for females in the United Kingdom, from 1890 to 2010. The piece that accompanied with the chart went under the jolly title of "The Royal We", and discussed trends in marriage ages with markers at various key royal wedding dates over the years.

Several features of the chart were pretty much as you'd anticipate:
  • The average age for grooms exceeds that for brides.
  • There were structural breaks around the end  of the First and Second World Wars.
  • Since about 1970, the average marriage age has been trending upwards (from about 22 and 24 years of age for brides and grooms in 1970; to about 29 and 31 years of age, respectively, in 2010).
Always on the look-out for some new examples for my classes - especially ones that are a little bit "different" in their content - I thought it would be interesting to explore some similar data for U.S. pairings. The following chart shows the median age at first marriage for happy couples entering marriage for the first time between 1947 and 2010. The data are from the U.S. Census Bureau, and are available in the Excel workbook on the Data page that goes with this blog.