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.

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.

Sex & The ’60s: Why Did Condom Usage Decline During the Decade?

Vintage condoms (Collectors Weekly)

Vintage condoms (Collectors Weekly)

This week, we’re examining sexuality data from the 1960s, in celebration of the upcoming final half-season of “Mad Men” beginning Apr. 5th.

Everyone knows that the 1960s was a game-changer in terming of blowing sexuality wide open, and that we still feel the reverberations today. But one aspect of sexuality was negatively impacted during that timeframe: condom usage.

But why? It comes down to the economic principle of substitution, which holds that when the price of one good rises, demand for a similar good rises. (Picture coffee and tea in this scenario: If the price of coffee goes up, fewer people will want, or can afford, to buy it, so they’ll want tea.) In the 1960s, other methods appeared on the scene, and they became more popular to use, so the substitution effect took hold. Though price didn’t play into it, the effects were unchanged.

One method majorly stood out. Enovid, the first birth control pill, was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1960. (The contraceptive pioneered by Dr. Carl Djerassi, “the father of The Pill,” later got licensed under the trade name Ortho Novum.) Its popularity grew rapidly: 1.2M+ American women are on it in 1962, and then almost doubles to 2.3M+ the next year.

By the middle of the decade, 25% of couples used it, and 6.5M+ American women used it (but no data on the number of partnered versus single women who used it).

But that wasn’t the only birth control innovation. In 1968, the FDA also approved the first intrauterine devices (IUDs). Unlike today’s common T-shape, Dr. Hugh Davis’s Dalkon shield was egg-shaped with a number of dull spikes emanating from it. Within two years, the IUD had sold 600K+ in the U.S.

With these advances, it’s easy to see that the simple condom would’ve slipped out of public favor.