Wow – what a headline … okay, I admit it’s phrased quite sensational given that it anticipates just one possible interpretation of increasingly more births around summer / autumn compared to in spring … but I guess I just get more proactive at marketing with every post I publish!
Okay, enough of that – here’s the deal – essentially looking at the monthly variation of the seasonal component of live births by month reveals strong trends indicating more births in the first half of the year towards the 60s relative to towards 2010 and the opposite relation manifests in the second half. Now assuming a standard duration of labour of 9 months we can calculate the maximum-likelihood month of intercourse – and that’s where it gets juicy! BTW – less children being born in spring means less anxious generations ahead – but more on that later.
For Germany this trend is very strong – June to August becoming less popular for procreation while October to January coming in favour of potential parents.
Estonia shows the same trend pattern, while relative magnitudes between months are different.
Seasonal trend is comparatively week – likely due to the mild climate.
Trend of seasonal pattern reverses at around 1980. According to Google Analytics I had 40 visits from Icelanders in 2014 – my question to you: “What happened?”.
The Data and the Code
Source of the data is Eurostat and specifically the dataset “demo_fmonth“. The decomposition into season, trend and remainder is done using stats::stl() with a seasonal window of 36 months and a trend window of 48 months – I figured this is a good compromise for capturing the seasonal pattern while not diluting it with a too long time span. The code is of course published on GitHub and you can give the code a try right now thanks to devtools::source_url().
base_url <- cat(
# load data from Eurostat
d <- load_sdmx_from_eurostat(dataset = "demo_fmonth")
# available time series data for countries
#> table(d$data$geo)[table(d$data$geo) > 600]
# plot away - aye, aye, Sir
monthplot_for_country(d$data, "DE", sw=36, tw=48, pstl=TRUE, yred=1990)
And a special biiiig “Thank you very much!” goes to Emmanuel Blondel and Matthieu Stigler for creating rsdmx – which finally makes it a cinch to load SDMX! So far I either had to resort to ill-structured TSVs on Eurostat or use their “SDMX Converter“.
Where’s the Summer Feeling, People?
Now why do for example Germans “make less babies” in summer and instead choose to reproduce in late autumn / winter? I attempt to explain:
- In earlier days household sizes were larger and hence romantic feelings more likely overcame (future) Mommy and (future) Daddy on a warm sunny day walking through the cornfields!
- Generation Facebook tends to indulge in hedonistic and narcissistic lifestyle during summer – too busy making selfies … but then autumn strikes – it gets cold and dark and flowers wilk – we start think about getting older and finally dying. A natural reaction is to bring a little copy of yourself into the world!
- Back in the sixties houses were not so well thermally insulated and equipped with heating systems. Nowadays flats are so warm and so cozy – causing warm and cozy feelings – add candle light and you’re halfway there.
- Of course procreation got less causally related to intercourse since contraceptives became more available. Which implies that concious decision making gained a more important role.
The long-term impact on society!
Now hang on to your hat, friend, cause this is not just some harmless time shift of good vibrations … this has long-term and serious impact on society! Scientists published a study indicating that when you are born correlates with five affective temperaments of your future personality  . Children born in spring seem to be more anxious than those born in summer/autumn but then again less irritable. More irritable and less anxious is just the right mix of qualities for a career hooligan – that’s bad news!
Visualized Demographical Data
You are still hungry for more data on life and death – don’t worry, there you go:
(original article published on www.joyofdata.de)