Once Scorned, Many Americans Now Happily Claim This Ancestry

Posted March 2nd, 2016 at 11:07 am (UTC-4)
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Irish immigrants in Kansas City, Missouri, circa 1909 (Public Domain Photo)

Irish immigrants in Kansas City, Missouri, circa 1909 (Public Domain Photo)

The Irish were among the United States’s first great wave of immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These newcomers lived in extreme poverty at the lowest rungs of American society, often enduring fervent anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic discrimination.

Young dancers participate in the 2014 St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City. (Photo by Flickr user Diana Robinson via Creative Commons license)

Young dancers participate in the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City. (Photo by Flickr user Diana Robinson via Creative Commons license)

Today, more than 33 million Americans proudly claim to have at least some Irish ancestry. People of Irish heritage are so deeply entrenched in America that about half of all the U.S. presidents had some Irish ancestral origins.

The Irish influence in America is so keen that March has been designated as Irish-American Heritage Month and millions of Americans happily celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every March 17.

About 4.5 million Irish people arrived in the United States between 1820 and 1930, according to the Library of Congress.

By 1850, the Irish were the nation’s largest immigrant group, settling primarily on the East Coast and in Southern states. Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans claims Irish ancestry, far more than the experts who keep track of these things predicted.

For example, during the 1980 U.S. Census — the first to contain subjective questions about ethnic identity — far more Americans than could be explained by immigration and birth patterns claimed Irish heritage.

“In 1980, there should have been about 20 million descendants of these Irish immigrants in the United States and then they looked at the data from the 1980 census that first asked about ancestry and it turned out there were 40 million people claiming some Irish ancestry in the census,” said Stephen Trejo, an economist at the University of Texas at Austin. “People of multiple backgrounds tended to report Irish more than other things maybe because it was more fun with St. Patrick’s day or for other reasons, they felt more attached to that, so they reported that.”

Nationals2A 1994 paper in the American Sociological Review concluded, “an unexplained subjective “closeness” to Ireland contributed to the size of the Irish American population in 1980.”

Today’s Irish Americans are faring far better than the earliest Irish arrivals.

The median income for households headed by an Irish American is $62,141, higher than the median household income of $53,657 for all U.S. households, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Forty-two percent of Irish Americans work in management, business, science and arts occupations, 24 percent are in sales or office occupations, while 15 percent are in service occupations.

Today, 10 percent of Americans claim some Irish heritage, but there’s a saying in the United States that, on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish.

On March 17, many Americans will happily drink to that.

 

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Most US Wealth Is Concentrated in These 10 Areas

Posted February 29th, 2016 at 10:45 am (UTC-4)
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Crowds jam Grant Avenue in Chinatown during a Chinese New Year festival and fair Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo)

Crowds jam Chinatown during a Chinese New Year festival, Feb. 20, 2016, in San Francisco, California, which has a GDP of $412 billion. (AP Photo)

Wealth and influence are concentrated in certain areas of the United States and a new animated map shows just how mammoth some local economies are when compared on a national scale.

Metrocosm’s Max Galka created the map, which shows every U.S. county in proportion to its share of the total U.S. GDP (gross domestic product). Galka’s map becomes distorted once the powerhouse economies of certain metropolitan areas, such as New York, Los Angeles and Houston, are adjusted according to their money and influence.

The GDP of every U.S. county

The major urban centers in the United States don’t just have the largest GDP — which is the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one fiscal year — they also have stronger economies than entire countries.

Galka points out that the greater New York area’s economy of $1.5 trillion surpasses that of 11 nations, including Australia and South Korea, and ranks just below Canada and Russia. Atlanta sits at the bottom of the U.S. economic top 10, but if it were a country, Atlanta would rank among the top 50 economic powerhouses in the world, below Denmark and Malaysia but above Singapore and Israel.

Max Galka, Metrocosm.com

Max Galka, Metrocosm.com

 

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Poll Finds Young Americans Are ‘Frighteningly’ Liberal

Posted February 26th, 2016 at 1:16 pm (UTC-4)
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(Photo by Flickr user E. Krall via Creative Commons license)

(Photo by Flickr user E. Krall via Creative Commons license)

While the Republican candidates for president have loudly lamented the steep decline of America, new research by a GOP pollster suggests young people are far more optimistic about the country’s future.

“They’re refreshingly, resoundingly sunny about America’s future,” Frank Luntz writes. “This generation simply rejects the gloom and doom, even as their parents and grandparents fret that America is in decline.”

Graphic by Luntz Global

Graphic by Luntz Global

The right-wing political consultant recently completed a national survey of 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 26. He found that 88 percent of respondents are at least “somewhat optimistic” about their future, while 54 percent reported being “extremely optimistic” or “very optimistic” about their tomorrows.

While leading presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump frequently talks about making America great again, 61 percent of the young people in the survey believe the nation’s best days are still ahead. Just 39 percent felt our “best days are behind us”.

However, this youthful optimism does not extend to politicians and corporate America. Sixty-six percent of young people believe corporations embody “everything that is wrong about America”. Elected officials fare only slightly better; the survey found 60 percent of young people felt Washington embodies everything that is “wrong about America”.

Graphic by Luntz Global

Graphic by Luntz Global

In fact, when presented with 16 pressing issues facing the country, the younger Americans said they were most worried about the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The high cost of a college education was the second most pressing issue.

All of this is a cause for alarm, according to Luntz, who writes, “The hostility of young Americans to the underpinnings of the American economy and the American government ought to frighten every business and political leader.”

What might also frighten conservatives is who young people admire most when asked about political figures. Democrats Bernie Sanders (31 percent), President Barack Obama (18 percent) and Hillary Clinton (11 percent) top the list. Republicans lag behind with Donald Trump (9 percent), Ted Cruz (5 percent) and Marco Rubio (3 percent). President Obama is the person that first- and second-time voters would most like to have dinner with.

Forty-four percent of the 18-to-26 year olds interviewed considered themselves Democrats, compare to 15 percent who identified as Republicans. The remaining 42 percent of young voters consider themselves to be independents.

How Majority of Americans Are Shut Out of US Presidential Race

Posted February 24th, 2016 at 12:19 pm (UTC-4)
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In this file photo, pedestrians wait for a CTA train at Blue Line in Chicago, Illinois. (AP Photo)

In this file photo, pedestrians wait for a CTA train at Blue Line in Chicago. Illinois best represents the national electorate, according to a new report. (AP Photo)

Iowa and New Hampshire have the first caucus and primary in every U.S. presidential election, but states like Florida, Michigan, Arizona and Illinois are far more representative of the national electorate, according to a new analysis.

A key characteristic those states have in common is that they all contain big cities. The vast majority of Americans — 80 percent — lived in urban areas as of 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But this majority isn’t getting a say in the early primary contests, critics say.

“Urban voters are pretty much locked out of these early primaries,” said Thomas Ogorzalek, an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University in Illinois. “The unrepresentative early primary states, like Iowa and New Hampshire, don’t have those big metropolitan areas, which means actually that their populations are distinctive because rural people are not the typical American. The typical American lives in a suburb…and the second biggest group is people who live in central cities.”

WalletHub considered gender, age, race, income and educational level when making a map highlighting the most and least representative U.S. states.

Which States Most Closely Resemble US Electorate (Click on each state to see where it ranks) 

Source: WalletHub

 

Iowa and New Hampshire are also among the whitest states in the nation. Iowa’s population was 92 percent white in 2014, while New Hampshire’s was 94 percent white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall, the United States is a much more diverse nation. In 2010, non-Hispanic whites accounted for only 63.7 percent of the population.

Supporters cheer after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is announced the winner of the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo)

Supporters cheer after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is announced the winner of the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo)

“You have these two overwhelmingly white states, not at all representative of the diversity of the broader United States population, setting the tone,” said Mark Rozell, acting dean of the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University. “Many political observers have maintained that we should have a different system for nominating presidents in this country, whether it be a national primary or regional primaries or a different sequence in primaries and caucuses, so that the same two states are not always first in the nation.”

Holding early primaries in states with bigger cities would likely benefit different candidates. Not only those with deeper pockets — since media markets in urban areas are more expensive — but also candidates with big city appeal such as the Democratic candidate and former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and Republican Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, both of whom dropped out of the race before urban voters had a chance to weigh in.

Ogorzalek looks favorably upon a compressed primary season and possible regional primaries, which he believes could lead candidates to discuss issues that are important to a majority of Americans.

“In terms of setting the agenda for the political season that’s upcoming, if we had more issues that were focused around big cities, it might be more representative of what Americans care about in their daily lives and that would change the tone of the debate,” he said.

 

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Who’s Losing Out on the American Dream?

Posted February 22nd, 2016 at 10:32 am (UTC-4)
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A home in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo by Flickr user Lexie Longstreet via Creative Commons license)

A home in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo by Flickr user Lexie Longstreet via Creative Commons license)

Recovering from the housing bust of 2008 has been harder on some Americans than others, most notably older millennials, Hispanics, the upper middle class and the wealthy.

The 2008 financial crisis caused the greatest disruption in the U.S. housing market since the Great Depression in the 1930s, which was the lengthiest, deepest economic downturn ever in the Western industrialized world.

Renter_buyer_profile_V32_Blog-graphic-22The housing website Trulia used data from the American Community Survey to determine where the largest shifts from homeowner to renter occurred from 2006 to 2014. The analysis explored factors such as age, gender, race, and income.

It found that young adults between the ages of 26 to 34, who used to be the prime group of first-time home buyers, were having more difficulty making the transition from renter to homeowner.

Svenja Gudell, chief economist for the real estate site Zillow, attributes this delay to the fact millennials are “figuring out how they can save for a down payment and qualify for a mortgage, especially while the rental market is so unaffordable all over the country.”

From 1980 to 2010, the average cost of a home increased 294 percent, according to an analysis from Job Application Center, making the prospect of saving enough for a down payment, as well as paying a monthly mortgage, even more daunting for potential new home buyers.

During the same period, Hispanics also became renters at a higher rate — nearly twice that of whites, African Americans and Asians — than any other ethnic group. The 2014 State of Hispanic Ownership Report found that home ownership was “lower than in previous years due primarily to a shortage of affordable housing inventory and competition from cash investors.”

“Three years ago, I had an extremely well-qualified millennial buyer who lost three contracts to cash investors,” said Megann Yaqub, a real estate agent in the Washington, D.C. area. “A cash buyer is more attractive to a seller. The transaction can close faster because funds are immediately available and there would not be a finance contingency as part of the contract.”

In the Washington, D.C. metro market, all-cash sales peaked at 42 percent in February 2011. However, by September 2015, all-cash sales had slipped to under 15 percent.

“Large investors are now leaving our market,” Yaqub said, “and this should create more opportunities for first-time homebuyers.”

The Trulia analysis also found that, conversely, upper middle class and wealthy Americans shifted from owning to renting at a higher rate than middle and lower-income households. Trulia finds this is likely due in part to the fact that “lower and middle-income households were already renting at significantly higher rates” than their more affluent counterparts. The wealthy are still doing OK. While more than 80 percent of rich Americans own a house, less than 50 percent of poorer citizens do.

Overall, the entire country is still feeling the impact of the financial crisis. In the 50 largest U.S. housing markets, the number of people who rent increased from 36 percent in 2006 to 41 percent in 2014.

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Here are the Most Googled Companies in Each State

Posted February 19th, 2016 at 9:05 am (UTC-4)
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Americans who search for the term “coca cola” most likely live in Georgia, while the Pepsi people are probably in Chicago, according to a new map. (Photo by Flickr user Sean Loyless via Creative Commons license)

Americans who search for the term “coca cola” most likely live in Georgia, while the Pepsi people are probably in Chicago, according to a new map. (Photo by Flickr user Sean Loyless via Creative Commons license)

Americans who search for the term “coca cola” most likely live in Georgia, while the Pepsi people are probably in Chicago.

Career resource website Zippia researched which companies each state googles more than any other. Some of the results aren’t surprising. The most searched company in Michigan, home to the “Big Three” — the largest automakers in the United States — is Ford Motors. Costco, the warehouse club retailer, is popular in Washington State, where its corporate offices are located.

The Lego Group is the most googled company in the state of Utah. (AP Photo)

The Lego Group is the most googled company in the state of Utah. (AP Photo)

Zippia used Google Trends to develop its data. Google Trends allows users to put type in certain search terms and see how popular that term is relative to other places.

Big oil companies are not the most searched in Texas; that honor goes to the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group.The soft drink company is headquartered in Plano, Texas. Best Buy is hot in  Minnesota, where the retailer’s corporate offices are located. The same is true for the craft store Hobby Lobby, the most googled company in Oklahoma, which is based in the Sooner State.

However, hometown companies don’t always draw the most interest.

For example, although the Danish company, The Lego Group, has its U.S. offices in Connecticut, the toy maker is most popular in Utah. Lego competitions are apparently big in the Beehive State. Three hundred Lego teams have competed in regional tournaments, according to a recent article in the local Herald Extra.

And the Gap rocks it in New York, even though the casual clothing retailer’s main offices are in San Francisco.

Here’s the complete map showing which company each state googled more than any other:

most-googled-company-by-state

 

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Rare 1903 Video Captures Busy Boston Streets

Posted February 17th, 2016 at 6:20 am (UTC-4)
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Screenshot from “Seeing Boston by Streetcar” posted by the New England Historical Society.

Screenshot from “Seeing Boston by Streetcar” posted by the New England Historical Society.

Rare video posted by the New England Historical Society shows the busy streets of Boston in 1903. A cameraman boarded a city streetcar and filmed as he rode around the city.

The silent black-and-white footage records sidewalks jammed with pedestrians while horses and buggies share the road with electric streetcars. Seeing Boston By Streetcar was one of the first times the city was filmed, according to the historical society’s website.

The motion picture captures some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, such as the Jordan Marsh Department Store, the Boston Public Library and elevated rail lines.

The images were documented by Massachusetts native Billy Bitzer, a cinematographer who went on to become a major figure in Hollywood. He’s credited with developing early cinematic techniques like the fadeout, soft focus and the close-up.

The film, which is eight minutes long, debuted in 1906 at Boston’s first movie theater, the Theatre Comique. It was a unique treat for moviegoers at that time because the American motion picture industry was only about 12 years old.

For today’s audiences, Bitzer’s film is a unique historical record that provides an extraordinary glimpse of one of America’s major cities at the turn of the century.

 

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Americans Can’t Always Name That President

Posted February 15th, 2016 at 7:33 am (UTC-4)
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The so-called Presidents' Club. America's living presidents from left: Then President George W. Bush, center, poses with then President-elect Barack Obama, and former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, left, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, right, Jan. 7, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo)

The so-called Presidents’ Club. America’s living presidents from left: Then President George W. Bush, center, poses with then President-elect Barack Obama, and former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, left, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, right, Jan. 7, 2009, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo)

Americans celebrate Presidents Day, a federal holiday commemorating George Washington’s birthday, on the third Monday in February. The occasion used to be celebrated every February 22 — the actual date the first U.S. president was born — until 1971, when it was moved to create more three-day weekends for the country’s workers.

These days many people think the holiday commemorates all U.S. presidents, even though some Americans aren’t completely clear on who those presidents are, according to researchers from Washington University in St. Louis.

Undated portrait of Chester Alan Arthur, 21st president of the U.S., from 1881 to 1885. (AP Photo)

Undated portrait of Chester Alan Arthur, 21st president of the U.S., from 1881 to 1885. (AP Photo)

While 88 percent of all U.S. presidents’ names were recognized, fewer than 60 percent of those polled recognized Presidents Chester Arthur (1881-1885) and Franklin Pierce (1853-1857).

Certain presidential names were recognized 99 percent of the time, including Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Kennedy, Nixon, Bush, and Obama.

And some respondents were pretty sure famous Americans who’d never been president — such as Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin — had in fact lived in the White House.

“We created the list of lures by combining vice presidents who did not become president with other famous names from American history,” the researchers wrote, “We also included names of people who were not famous to assess whether some subjects would be yea-sayers, responding yes to most everyone, or responding randomly.”

These lures were so successful that many people were more certain Hamilton, who appears on the $10 bill, served as U.S. president than they were about six actual presidents.

“Our findings from a recent survey suggest that about 71 percent of Americans are fairly certain that Alexander Hamilton is among our nation’s past presidents,” Henry L. Roediger III, a human memory expert at Washington University, told the Association for Psychological Science. “I had predicted that Benjamin Franklin would be the person most falsely recognized as a president, but Hamilton beat him by a mile.”

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull, 1806 ("Alexander Hamilton portrait by John Trumbull 1806" by John Trumbull - Washington University Law School. (Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull, 1806 (“Alexander Hamilton portrait by John Trumbull 1806” by John Trumbull – Washington University Law School. (Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Hamilton, one of America’s founding fathers, helped frame the U.S. Constitution, which established America’s national government and fundamental laws. A close ally of George Washington, Hamilton served as the secretary of the U.S. treasury. He died at the age of 49 in an infamous duel with Aaron Burr, the sitting U.S. vice president.

Benjamin Franklin was many things, but he was never president, even though a majority of people polled thought he was. Franklin was a founding father as well as a scientist, inventor and diplomat who facilitated America’s first volunteer fire department.

The study polled 326 people via Mechanical Turk, an interactive online service.

A similar study Roediger conducted in 2014, found Americans are pretty good at naming the first few and the last few presidents, but then things start to fall off. Fewer than 20 percent of people polled in the 2014 study could recall more than the last eight or nine presidents in order.

So, on Presidents Day, while Americans might commemorate all of the U.S. leaders, they might not always remember exactly who it is they’re saluting.

 

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How Diversity Has Changed America

Posted February 12th, 2016 at 9:52 am (UTC-4)
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A diverse California crowd at Coachella, a musical event on April 20. 2014. (Photo by Flickr user Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons license)

A diverse California crowd at Coachella, a musical event on April 20. 2014. (Photo by Flickr user Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons license)

Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

In 1970, California — currently the most diverse state in the nation — had a population of about 20 million and the overwhelming majority of its residents — 17.8 million — identified as white.

Forty years later, California has sizeable Hispanic, Black and Asian populations. In 2010, of the 37 million people living in the Golden State, 14 million identified as Hispanic, more than 5 million were Asian and 2 million were African Americans, while about 15 million were white.

A jogger goes for a run in Maine, where 1.2 million of the state's 1.3 million residents are white. (AP Photo)

A jogger goes for a run in Maine, where 1.2 million of the state’s 1.3 million residents are white. (AP Photo)

In 2010, Nevada had a population of 2.7 million, 1.5 million were white with 208,000 African Americans and 716,000 Hispanics. Back in 1970, there were 488,738 people living in the Silver State and 449,790 of them were white.

In addition to California, the other most diverse states in the country include Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas. Both New Mexico and Texas border the country of Mexico and boast large Hispanic populations.Texas is home to 25 million people, 9.5 million of whom are Hispanic.

Evidence of this modern-day American melting pot is less apparent in the East Coast states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and West Virginia, the least diverse in the nation.

In 2010, of Maine’s 1.3 million residents, 1.2 million were white. In Vermont, whites accounted for 590,223 of the state’s total population of 625,741.

Zippia, a career resource website, used information from the U.S. Census Bureau to create the following graphic reflecting the nation’s changing diversity.

50-states-diversity

Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

Posted February 10th, 2016 at 11:21 am (UTC-4)
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For the majority of young U.S. men, a potential significant other’s finances are more important than physical attractiveness. (Photo by Flickr user Guian Bolisay  via Creative Commons license)

For the majority of young U.S. men, a potential significant other’s finances are more important than physical attractiveness. (Photo by Flickr user Guian Bolisay via Creative Commons license)

Whoever said money can’t buy love was wrong, according to a new Valentine’s Day-related survey that finds young U.S. men are more drawn to a robust bank account than a pretty face when it comes to searching for a mate.

The NerdWallet survey found that a majority of men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than looks.

“Among every other age group of men, we did find that physical attractiveness was more important…but among millennials, that’s actually switched,” said Courtney Miller, a data analyst at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. “We’re seeing 54 percent of [millennial] men who are feeling that financial attractiveness is actually more important than physical attractiveness.”

Both women (60%) and men (43%) say a potential partner’s financial situation is important to them.(Photo by Flickr user Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons license)

Both women (60%) and men (43%) say a potential partner’s financial situation is important to them.(Photo by Flickr user Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons license)

Finances are important across the board. Forty percent of all respondents said a partner’s financial situation is more critical than their physical attractiveness.

Bad credit can be a romantic deal breaker. About half of people at all income levels say they wouldn’t date anyone with bad credit. That number was higher among affluent Americans. More than half (51 percent) of people making more than $100,000 a year, said they wouldn’t date someone with bad credit. That number drops significantly — to 38 percent — among people earning less than $50,000 annually.

“Financial attractiveness is not something that’s talked about as much as physical attractiveness, but a large group of the population feels this is important and I think it really speaks to how important finances are in general in our lives, how much credit scores impact your ability to get a home with someone down the road,” said Miller. “People might be looking at credit as a more important part of a relationship because it will affect how you build a future together.”

In some ways, millennial males are still traditional gentlemen. They plan to splurge on their significant others this Valentine’s Day, spending more on the romantic occasion — $371 — than men in any other age group. They also plan to foot the bill, something 64 percent of all people surveyed agreed with.

“It’s higher among men in general but the majority of women also report that men should pay the bill, specifically on the first date and on Valentine’s Day,” Miller said. “We can’t make more generalized claims about dating in general, but it does appear that, on the first date at least, the majority of people, both men and women, do think that men should pay the entire bill.”

When it comes to Valentine’s Day spending for people in relationships, millennials in general (men and women) plan to drop the most money — $290 — while people aged 35 to 54 plan to spend significantly less. However, romance apparently blooms again later in life with people between the ages of 55 to 64 spending almost as much as millennials. The oldest Americans, people 65 and older, plan to shell out the least on Valentine’s Day — just $61 — to celebrate with the romantic partner in their lives.