Valentine's statistics: let us count the ways

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 14 2012 5:47 p.m. MST

Delivery driver Tom Bellin of Flowerama in Pittsburgh loads his car with Valentine's Day deliveries in Pittsburgh Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012.

Associated Press

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Valentine's Day, like Christmas, is a holiday defined in part by consumption. And wherever there is consumption, there is an economist commenting.

Christopher Coyne, professor of economics at George Mason University, writes in the Daily Caller about the economics of Valentine's Day.

"At a time when all things financial have many of us feeling cold, economics tells us it’s OK to love Valentine’s Day for its own sake," said Coyne.

The fact that the "average citizen can afford to take time and money to signal their affection in a tangible way" is quite amazing, Coyne noted, considering the required wealth to make this possible is relatively new for societies.

Also, rather than give cash to loved ones, people on Valentine's Day signal their feelings with creative gifts.

"In a free market that creates wealth, the logic of signaling means we’re all more empowered to communicate our affections more strongly, more accurately and more effectively," said Coyne.

The last economic concept Coyne recognizes on Valentine's Day is the classic fallacy of "what is seen and what is not seen," perhaps deflating some arguments of a Valentine's stimulus.

"There is a natural tendency to focus on what is readily observable (in this case, Valentine’s Day spending) while ignoring the unseen (the fact that the Valentine’s Day spending would have been allocated elsewhere if not for the holiday)," Coyne said.

The Census has provided updated data related to Valentine's Day:

Per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2010: 24.7 pounds

The number of florists nationwide in 2009: 17,124

Number of jewelry stores in the United States in 2009: 24,973

The number of marriages that took place in the United States in 2009: 2.1 million (5,800 per day)

The number of dating service establishments nationwide as of 2007: 393

The Economics of Valentine's Day

Christopher Coyne, a professor of economics at George Mason University, explains economics related to Valentine's Day.

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