Small Data: The great birthday robbery

Girl eating cake

More than 170,000 people celebrated their birthdays on 30 March in the UK, writes Anthony Reuben.

Small Data

  • A series on curious numbers cropping up in the news, by stats watcher Anthony Reuben

That's not an easy figure to come by, by the way. You can get official figures for live births on a particular day, but they don't go back far enough to cover all the people who are alive today.

If you ask the Office for National Statistics nicely they will give you figures for the number of live births per month going back to 1963. The figure for March is average or slightly below average going back to 1990. Before that, it was more popular, and every year from 1963 to 1976, March was the most common month to be born in.

All of this averages out over the 50 years, though, and if you look at these proportions together with the latest population estimates, you get to the figure of a little over 150,000 for England and Wales. You can add to that about another 15,000 in Scotland and 5,000 in Northern Ireland.

If you were one of them, happy birthday! But also commiserations, because the switch to daylight saving time robbed you of 4.2% of your birthday.

Last year, I lost an hour of my birthday, as I had in 2002, 1996, 1991 and 1985, but I decided I wasn't standing for it. Some said the right response would be to save it up, so I could declare an hour of birthday at some other point in the year when I really needed it. My son suggested I should take it a minute at a time for the rest of the year, so I'd have 60 opportunities to ask people to do things and they'd have to because it was my birthday.

Eventually, I decided that it would make the most sense to get my hour of birthday back on the day that the lost hour was officially returned - the day when British Summer Time ended.

So, on 27 October I declared that it would be my birthday from 13:00 until 14:00 and took my family to a cafe for lunch and then to an ice cream shop for pudding.

Honour was satisfied. I hope all you 30 March birthdays will do the same thing on 26 October this year. Perhaps you could throw a party - there are more than 170,000 people you could invite.

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