When do people get married and have babies in the Bay Area?

San Francisco Neverland

Thanks for joining me for the eleventh issue of the Golden Stats Warrior, a newsletter for data-based insights about the Bay Area. If this is your first time reading, welcome! If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here. I am so grateful for your support.


Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, so let’s talk Bay Area relationships.

In 2015, I moved to San Francisco from Minneapolis. I was 31 at the time. In Minneapolis, I felt ancient. Everybody I knew was either getting married or having kids.

By comparison, San Francisco felt like Peter Pan’s Neverland. It was as if I instantly moved five years back in the life cycle.

The statistics bear that out. According to my analysis of US Census data collected from 2013 to 2017, half of the people in Minneapolis are married by 32 years old. Less than 40% of San Franciscans are married at that age. 

The chart below compares the probability of being hitched at different ages in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Dallas. The age at which San Franciscans diverge most is 29, when they are 20 percentage points less likely to be married.

San Franciscans between 30 and 35 are the 9th least likely to get married among the 183 US counties with over 400,000 people. The counties that encompass Baltimore (32%) and Philadelphia (34%) are the two with the lowest probability, while Utah County (77%), which includes the city of Provo, is the highest.

Where San Francisco really stands out is the likelihood of having kids. Only 18% of 30-35 year old San Franciscans have children, easily the lowest percentage  of all major counties in the US. The table below shows how San Francisco compares to the other counties where people are least likely to have kids and other large California counties. (California counties in red.)

San Francisco isn’t kid friendly for a few reasons. The most obvious is housing. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and it’s tough to create the space for little ones. Many San Franciscans that do decide to have kids often end up moving to neighboring counties like San Mateo and Alameda for the space. Another reason is that the residents of San Francisco are among the most highly educated in the US. Americans with graduate degrees tend to delay having kids to focus on academics and career.

In 2017, Thomas Fuller reported in the New York Times that San Francisco had fewer children than any of the other 100 largest American cities. There are as many pets in the city as children, Fuller points out. The story notes that the city is trying to bring more kids back into the city by forcing employers to offer at least six weeks of paid leave and by spending millions to improve parks.

Even within San Francisco there are some differences. The US Census data allows us to examine geographic areas smaller than counties called PUMAs (Public Use Microdata Areas). The map below shows how different San Francisco is to surrounding areas.

Share of people 30-50 living with one of their own children

For all of you that are coupled up, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. For those who don’t have a partner and want one, I hope this data has shown you that it’s never too late, at least in San Francisco. And for those of you that are single and don’t care, you are the best among us.

Bay Area media recommendation of the week

YR Media is a Bay Area gem. The organization, formerly known as Youth Radio, is a network of young journalists based in downtown Oakland. Youth Radio is mostly high schoolers who work with the YR Media team to write stories, and make video and interactive content.

The distinct perspective of YR Media’s young journalists leads to smart and original stories. My favorite recent video was about how DACA impacted two East Bay chefs who have a birria tacos food truck. The video inspired me to check out their taco truck and I can report back that it was amazing.

(If you read or listened to something great about the Bay Area this week, please send it to me!)

Dan’s favorite things

The Bay Area isn’t quite the epicenter of the music world that it was in the 1960s, but there is still a lot to love. My friend recently asked me for a list of my favorite Bay Area artists that are relatively new, and I figured I would also share it with you. The playlist below, and linked here, is made up of songs from ten of my favorite local artists.

My favorites are Madeline Kenney and Nappy Nina. Kenney’s recent song “Nick of Time” is a perfect example of how she combines the dreamy and profound. Nappy Nina recently moved to Brooklyn, but her wonderful album “Dumb Doubt,” released at the end of 2019, is grounded in a prideful and funky Bay Area sound (see the song “Pig Pen”).

My friend and Quartz colleague Daniel Wolfe made a version of the playlist for those not on Spotify: Check it out.


Thanks for your time, and see you in a couple weeks.

If you think a friend might enjoy this newsletter, please forward it along. You can follow me on Twitter at @dkopf or email me at dan.kopf@gmail.com

The Golden Stats Warrior logo was made by the great Jared Joiner, the best friend a nervous newsletter writer could have. Follow him @jnjoiner. Also, thanks to my favorite neighbor, the magnificent Mackenzie Beer, for copyediting this week.