Sales of High Heels Dropped 17% in 2017

Christian Louboutin shoes (Knowledge @ Wharton High School)

Christian Louboutin shoes (Knowledge @ Wharton High School)

Analysts have been sounding the alarm bell about the death of retail for a few years now. A few categories are also shifting. Among them are various trends in womenswear. Right now, one major category is getting shaken up: women’s shoes.

Market research firm NPD Group found that sales of high heels dropped 17% in 2017. The women’s footwear category then saw a substitute effect: Sales of women’s sneakers jumped 37% within the same time period.

There are a few reasons at play here: One is that the office is getting more casual, and it’s more acceptable for women to wear flats to work. Another is that sneakers are also having a moment in casual wear. An overarching reason is that women are claiming what they want to wear, and not bending to society’s expectations.

We can’t yet say if this will be a trend for retailers, or the beginning of a larger shift. It may be time to find out how men respond to flats and sneakers in terms of attraction.

 

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The U.S. Abortion Rate is at its Lowest Numbers Since 1973

Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

WASHINGTON – JANUARY 22: Pro-choice advocates participate in protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building January 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Activists from across the nation gathered to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in all fifty states. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Abortion protestors (FIUsm)

A recent study released by the Guttmacher Institute found that the U.S. abortion rate has fallen to its lowest rate since 1973.

The study claims that in 2014, the abortion rate is 14.6 abortions per ever 1K women of childbearing age (defined as ages 15-44). The rate peaked at 29.3 abortions per 1K women in 1980-1981. In 2013, the abortion rate “fell below 1M for the first time since the 1970s.”

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 (The Guttmacher Institute/NPR)

The study also found that 12% of clinics had at least one patient who tried to self-induce her abortion. There was no correlation between the closing of abortion clinics and more restrictive abortion laws by state. In areas where more abortion clinics opened, there was not a higher abortion rate.

There appears to be a substitution effect at work, with other birth control methods taking the place of abortion. Most notable is that of the intrauterine device (IUD), which has gained in usage over the past several years.

But why 1973? 1973 was the seminal year where the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their decision on Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. It’s a good sign that women are using more birth control methods and not having to rely on abortion to get rid of unintended pregnancies.

The Teen Birth Rate Is Declining

Teenage girls with pregnancy test (Young Adults)

Teenage girls with pregnancy test (Young Adults)

When I was growing up in the ’90s, teenage pregnancy was just a fact. It was depicted in movies and on TV, and you probably knew at least one girl in your school who got pregnant.

But teenage pregnancy now seems so…dated. Times have changed. Having kids young and outside of wedlock isn’t a big deal anymore. And I feel like I’m not seeing teen pregnancies focused on so much anymore (granted, that might be because I’m no longer a teen myself).

There’s a good reason for this: the teen birth rate is decreasing.

According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health, the teenage birth rate in the U.S. has actually been decreasing for over 20 years. In 1991, there were 61.8 babies born for every 1k teenage girls. In 2014, there were 24.2 babies born for every 1K teenage girls. Quite a drop.

Even the year-over-year drops can be steep. The 2014 number is a 9% drop from 2013, where 26.5 babies were born to every 1K teenage girls. And the 2015 number of 22 babies per every 1K teenage girls is a 8% decrease from 2014.

For a longer-term view of how the teen birth rate has declined from the previous decade, CNN has the scoop:

Since 2007, the year-to-year decline in teen birth rates has been between 7% and 9%…The number of teens becoming moms has dropped by a total of 54% from 2007 to 2015.

That’s huge! We’ll see how small the number of teenage pregnancies eventually gets.

 

Why Is the Number of Sexual Assaults Rising in New York City?

New York City skyline (The Huffington Post)

New York City skyline (The Huffington Post)

Certain types of violence are on the rise in the city that never sleeps. In addition to shooting and homicides increasing year-over-year, the number of rapes and sexual assaults has also increased.

But is it enough to panic over? Let’s look at the numbers. “The New York Times” reports:

From Jan. 1 to May 31, there were 540 rapes recorded in the city, an 8 percent increase over the same period last year, and more than 1,128 misdemeanor sex crimes, representing a rise of 18 percent.

But on the bright side, some types of sexual violence has declined within the city:

According to national data from the Centers for Disease Control in 2012, the rate of stranger rape as a percentage of all rape is 14 percent; in New York City this year, the rate is half that. Of the 540 reported rapes, 39 were committed by someone the victim did not know, according to the police.

But why are the overall numbers climbing? The phenomenon can be attributed to a simple economic principle: the complement effect. Numbers are climbing because more people are reporting them. And that’s a good thing! The more people that are aware of these crimes and can report them, the more accurate a picture we can get of just how rampant sexual assaults are.

I’m interested to see if this is, or will be, the case in other cities.

 

How Has Colorado’s Teen Pregnancy Rate Dropped 40% Within 4 Years?

IUD (NY Mag)

IUD (NY Mag)

Colorado’s teen pregnancy rate has been getting some attention recently. But it’s not for the reason you think; it’s actually for the opposite reason.

From 2009 to 2013, Colorado reported a 40% decrease in teenage pregnancies, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Below is a graph that shows the decline:

Colorado's Birth Rate 2005-2012 (The Washington Post)

Colorado’s Birth Rate 2005-2012 (The Washington Post)

That seems insane, right? But there’s actually an interesting reason behind it.

In 2008, an anonymous donor (later revealed to be the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named after Warren Buffett’s late wife) gave a $23 gift to be parceled out over five years. The gift was to be used for “long-term contraception” for low-income teens and women. Over 30K intrauterine devices (IUDs) were purchased and implemented. This measure was rolled out in 68 clinics, as part of Colorado’s Family Planning Initiative.

The IUDs were found to be a very significant factor in the state’s teen pregnancy decline. The study released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment showed that “the percentage of young women receiving IUDs and implants quadrupled in participating clinics,” and, in a complementary effect, the women receiving IUDs accounted for 75% of the state’s overall teen birth rate decline.

On a national scale, Colorado rose from having the “29th lowest teen birth rate in the nation to the 19th.” This is significant as seven in 10 teen pregnancies in the state are unplanned.

The program expires this summer, and it’s unclear whether it will be renewed. But the numbers definitely speak for themselves in terms of effectiveness.

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Violet Gordon-Woodhouse

Violet Gordon-Woodhouse (The Clarion Review)

Violet Gordon-Woodhouse (The Clarion Review)

Here’s someone you might not have learned about in history class: British musician Violet Gordon-Woodhouse was born on this day in 1872. She’s known for bringing the harpsichord back into popularity, and used it to make some records. Gordon-Woodhouse was the first person to make a harpsichord recording, and the first musician to broadcast a performance with the instrument.

But her story is also infused with sexuality. She married Gordon Woodhouse in 1895, taking both his names for her professional one, and finagled a marriage very beneficial to her needs: She insisted on time to pursue her career, and to open the marriage. At one point, Gordon-Woodhouse’s menagerie of men swelled to three others besides her main husband. (Sadly, I couldn’t find any photographic evidence of this ménage a cinq.)

I first read about Gordon-Woodhouse in Betsy Prioleau’s 2004 book, “Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love.” (It’s a great book, if you’re interested in learning about women taking a no-holds-barred approach to their life and loves.) We should all aspire to lead our lives as open as Gordon-Woodhouse did.

Pregnant Girls Banned from Sierra Leone Schools

Pregnant Sierra Leone woman (The Fatou Blog)

Pregnant Sierra Leone woman (The Fatou Blog)

Schools in Sierra Leone closed during the Ebola epidemic are scheduled to re-open today, welcoming children eager to learn again. But the country’s Minister of Education Minkailu Bah has banned one group from returning: pregnant teen girls, claiming they’re a distraction to their peers and would hinder learning.

Incidentally, this ban isn’t new, having been in place since 2010. But it’s making headlines now.

Whether or not this qualifies as a “distraction” is another debate entirely, but teenage pregnancies within the country are becoming more common. A recent long-term study by the UNESCO HIV and Health Education Clearing House found that 33%+ of all Sierran Leonian pregnancies involve teen girls, and nearly 40%+ are involved in a “maternal death.” For context relative to the size of the country’s population, 41% of Sierra Leone citizens are under age 18. Those are some scary stats.

Sierra Leone isn’t the only country battling this issue. As a whole, Africa has the highest rates of teenage pregnancies, taking 18 of the top 20 spots in a 2013 United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) rankings report.

The recent teenage pregnancy epidemic has been attributed to Ebola, in that girls who might otherwise be attending school are now more vulnerable to sexual violence. They may also have to survive and provide, and do so via prostitution. So there might be a bit of a substitution effect at play here.

But human rights governing bodies have taken note of Bah’s stance. The United Nations issued a statement in which stated that “education is a fundamental human right that Sierra Leone has committed itself to uphold.” The UN also reminded the country of its own Education Act, passed in 2004, which barred discrimination of those seeking education.

We’ll see how Bah’s proposed idea pans out. But the words of UNFPA’s Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin ring true here:

Adolescent pregnancy is intertwined with issues of human rights. A pregnant girl who is pressured or forced to leave school, for example, is denied her right to education.