September 19, 2017

Denominators and BIGNUMs


It’s pretty obvious that Bon Appétit has just confused averages and totals here.

So, what is the average? There were about 75 million millennials in the US in 2016 (we can probably assume  Bon Appétit doesn’t care about other countries), so we’re looking at $1280/year, or about $25/week. Which actually seems pretty low as an average.  The US as a whole spent $1.46 trillion on food and beverages in 2014, which is about $4500/person/year or about $87/week.

As with so much generation-mongering, asking about the facts is missing the intended purpose of the story, which is to recycle some stereotypes about lazy/wasteful youth.

The story links to another, about a new book “Generation Yum”

Turow characterized the quintessential Millennial experience this way: “You got into a top tier high school, you hustled through college—you’ve done everything society told you—and you’re not rewarded. 

When “get into a top-tier high school” is a quintessential generational experience it’s clear we’re not even trying to go beyond unrepresentative stereotypes.  In which case, hold the numbers.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient

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