The American lifecycle, by the data

Lifespan Binned Scatterplot

Hover over the dotted links below to visualize them.

You’re young. You live with family or friends. You find someone.

You’re 24, you’re pretty happy, you’re in love.

You’re 30, some lil ones are now underfoot. They’ll be there for some time.

You’re 60, they’re gone. It’s just the two of you again.

You’re 85, it’s just you now.

These visualizations all come from a very rich dataset, the General Social Survey. We’re awarding $1500 to whoever comes up with the most interesting findings. It’s really easy to get started.


  • If you want to dig into any of the visualizations we presented, here’s an interactive version of them.
  • We took occasional liberties with the data: “Year of first marriage” is based on 1972 – 1994 data only, and “Age at first childbirth” is 1994 – 2012 data only, and we ignored the “89 and older” age bucket.

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