Nearly half of the District’s children under five are enrolled in D.C.’s Books From Birth program

The District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) Books From Birth program mails all enrolled children in D.C. a free book each month from birth until they turn five. The program was launched by DCPL in January 2016 in partnership with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The program just celebrated its one year anniversary, and we thought it would be interesting to see how the program is performing now that participation data is available.

In its first thirteen months, the Books From Birth program enrolled nearly 22,000 unique children and mailed 147,525 books. The 2015 American Community Survey estimates that approximately 40,400 children under the age of five live in the District. This translates to a 47 percent participation rate for the program – nearly half of D.C.’s under five-year-old population. We were curious to see how D.C.’s first year participation rates compare to other jurisdictions with similar programs

Shelby County, Tennessee, which includes Memphis, is an urban area that has been operating a program like D.C.’s since 2005. Shelby County has a population of 937,750 (657,167 residing in Memphis) and generally speaking has similar demographics to the District.

Shelby County

District of Columbia




Under Five Population



Percent high school graduate or higher 86.9%














Percent Living in Poverty



Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

We plotted the first thirteen months of enrollment and participation data for the Shelby County and D.C. programs to see how they compare. The following graphs show the results of this plot. (click to enlarge)

BFB Participation Percentage

BFB Participation Number

The data shows that D.C.’s Books From Birth program outpaced Shelby County participation by about 300 percent and had more than double the number of enrolled children at the conclusion of month thirteen. The District enrolled more children in total even though Shelby County has 67,000 children under five years old compared to the District’s 40,400. We speculate that D.C.’s higher enrollment figures could be related to the fact that DCPL implemented an aggressive promotional campaign. DCPL’s campaign included posters on public transit and outreach at neighborhood festivals, DCPS parent meetings, nonprofit and government agencies, and daycare providers. Shelby County did not ramp-up its promotional outreach efforts until several years into the program and did not simplify its enrollment application until 2011. Shelby County saw swift growth in enrollment once outreach efforts were expanded. The program currently has 44,250 program participants and a 66 percent participation rate.

We also looked at where D.C.’s program participants live by using the zip code of each child’s mailing address. The top three enrolling zip codes were 20011 (Brightwood Park, Crestwood, Petworth), 20019 (Deanwood, Burrville, Lincoln Heights, River Terrace, Benning Ridge), and 20002 (Capitol Hill, NoMa, Trinidad, Kingman Park). (Click map to interact)

Enollment by Zip

The top three highest zip codes for participation rate (number of children enrolled out of the total number of eligible to enroll) were 20024 (Southwest Waterfront, Navy Yard), 20002 (Capitol Hill, NoMa, Trinidad, Kingman Park), and 20012 (Takoma, Shepherd Park, Colonial Village). (Click map to interact)

Participation by Zip

We also separated children into five buckets based on birth year to look at the age of participants by zip code. We found that the largest age cohort among Books From Birth children is newborns (under the age of one) and the smallest cohort is four-year-old children. All zip codes generally follow the same age cohort patterns except for 20018 (Woodridge, Langdon, Fort Lincoln) which had more four-year-old participants than newborns. (click to enlarge)

BFB Age by Zip

What exactly is this data?

Our data on Books From Birth participants comes from the data reported to us by the District of Columbia Public Library. This included the birth years for all participants, zip codes for mailing address, and enrollment numbers for each month of the program. We excluded zip codes with under 50 participants since many were not a physical location but rather a zip code for P.O. boxes. Excluded zip codes are included in the total enrollment and participation numbers but not the participation by location analysis.

The data regarding Shelby County was provided by the Executive Director of the Shelby County Books From Birth, Jamila Wicks.

Our data on the number of eligible children by zip code and demographics for Shelby County and D.C. comes from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey five-year estimates for number of children under five years old by zip code.

$26 Billion of Taxation without Representation

A recent court decision gave the District of Columbia control over its local budget for the first time since home rule in 1972. At a time when support for D.C. statehood is at an all-time high (67 percent of residents are in favor ), the court’s decision has brought a renewed optimism to the District’s 51st state movement. The Mayor and Council are taking advantage of the momentum generated by the court decision to propose a new ballot initiative and legislation to further the statehood agenda.

We all know the District’s statehood battle cry – Taxation Without Representation – but how much do we actually pay to the federal government each year? In order to answer this question, we dug into the federal tax collections data. What we found is that District residents and businesses paid a whopping $256 billion in federal taxes since the IRS began to track the District’s tax collections separately from Maryland in 2002. In 2014 the District paid the federal government $26.4 billion which is likely the largest contribution in the city’s history. The District only received $3.5 billion in federal grants, payments, and court contributions in fiscal year 2014 – a difference of roughly $22.9 billion (this excludes matching federal funds such as those we receive for Medicare, but all states receive these). Since 2002, the annual tax paid to the federal government grew by $11.7 billion (an increase of 80%).

Annual Federal Tax Payment

In 2014 the District paid more federal taxes than 22 states and paid nearly the same amount as South Dakota, Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, and Vermont combined. Those states have 15 seats in Congress while the District has only one non-voting delegate.

Annual Collections Rank

Although some states pay more federal taxes than others, it does not necessarily translate into more congressional representation. In 2014, New Jersey paid $9.63 billion of federal taxes for each of its 14 congressional seats – the highest in the country. West Virginia on the other hand only paid $1.38 billion for each of its five congressional seats – the lowest in the country. If the District became the 51st state in 2014 and had three seats in congress, it would have paid the fourth highest amount of federal taxes per congressional seat.

Federal Taxes Paid for Each Seat

What exactly is this data?

The IRS Data Book is published annually by the IRS and contains statistical tables and organizational information on a fiscal year basis. The data used in this analysis is published by the IRS annually and is available here. We used data from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2014 to obtain total revenue and federal government contributions to the District. In order to calculate federal spending on the District’s judicial system, we collected information from the District of Columbia Budget Request Act and the Budget of the United States Government for 2014.

Are you related to someone named Michael or Mary?

So are many of District residents.  Michael and Mary happen to be two of the most popular names for men and women in the District of Columbia. In fact over 3,000 Michaels and 1,700 Marys submitted income tax filings in 2014, over 6,000 Michaels and 3,600 Marys are registered to vote, and over 29,000 Michaels and 23,000 Marys have been born in D.C. since 1910.

After reading an article about first names in the Washington Post and after speculating about what our two colleagues would name their now one-month-old babies, we decided to take a closer look at the frequency and characteristics of first names in D.C.

In order to conduct this analysis, we used three separate databases:

  • 2013 income tax filings (first names of single and joint filers);
  • Voter Registration Data (first names, party affiliation, ward, and zip code of home address); and,
  • Social Security Records (first names of individuals born in D.C. with a Social Security card since 1910).

We then filtered and ranked the data and limited our analysis to top 500 most popular names. Check out the interactive table below to see if your name made the top 500.

(click to interact)

Name Frequency Among District Residents

 Name frequency since 1910

In addition to ranking names by popularity, we used Social Security data to plot the frequency of names in every birth year since 1910. As you scroll through each year you can see how a name’s popularity changes over time for all births in the District. A note of caution – data in early years is likely not as accurate as the most recent. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how naming fads come and go with time.

(click to interact)

First Name by Birth Year (all names)

The interactive graph below visualizes how specific names change in popularity over time. For example, we again chose Michael and Mary. If you are related to a Michael born in the District, there is a good chance that he was born before the 1990s; and if you are related to a Mary born in the District, she was likely born before the 1970s. Both names were wildly popular over the past century but both have declined in frequency – Michael peaked in 1958 and Mary in 1946.

(click to interact)

First Name by Birth Year (individual name)

First Name Voter Registration Data

To analyze the relationship political party affiliation has with first names, we calculated the frequency of first names among active registered voters and their political parties. The interactive map below shows party affiliation by name and zip code.

(click to interact)

Voter Registration by First Name

The sortable list below can be used to compare the top 500 most frequent names among registered voters and the political parties they most frequently register with.

(click to interact)Voter Registration by First Name Sortable List

Here are the most and least common names by political party affiliation.

Party Highest Lowest
Democrats Lilly Brendan
Libertarian Jared Barbara
Independent Jose Laverne
Other Gabriel Laverne
Republican Tyler Beatrice
Statehood Green Jon Laura

We also created a tool to analyze political party affiliation by name and Ward.

(click to interact)

Voter Registration by First Name and Ward

Enjoy playing around with the interactive tables and graphs and let us know if you have any interesting observations.





Which Capital Bikeshare stations see the most traffic?

Since its launch in 2010, the Capital Bikeshare program has witnessed tremendous growth in ridership. From 2011 to 2014, the number of Bikeshare trips that began or ended in the District of Columbia grew 2.6-fold. This remarkable growth has been fueled by the addition of new Bikeshare stations throughout the region and by the attractiveness of the program as an alternative mode of transportation.

Total Number of Trips by Year

A survey recently released by Capital Bikeshare gives us glimpse into how Bikeshare members use the service. The survey found that:

  • 85 percent used the bikes to attend social events;
  • 79 percent used the bikes for personal appointments;
  • 78 percent used the bikes to go shopping or run errands;
  • 77 percent used the bikes to eat at restaurants;
  • 74 percent used the bikes to go to work; and
  • 54 percent used the bikes to exercise.

However, when weighed by the frequency of trips, the most common use of Bikeshare is for going to work. Survey respondents that use Bikeshare to travel to work did so more frequently than for any other purpose. Of these travelers, nearly half use the bike share more than six time per month to travel to work.

Purpose of Bikeshare Trip

This left us wondering if Capital Bikeshare trip data for the District of Columbia supports the results of the survey. We analyzed program data since the start of the program and created an interactive map to visualize station traffic and user habits over time.

(click to interact with the following map)

Capital Bikeshare Arrivals and Departures

Here’s what we found:

  • Within the District, the net Bikeshare traffic flows from the NW quadrant to downtown area and to Georgetown.
  • The average District Bikeshare station experiences approximately 1,079 arrivals, 1,081 departures, and 2,159 total trips each month so on average, arrivals and departures even out across the city.
  • There is great variation in trip volume between stations.  The location with the highest amount of use, Massachusetts Ave & Dupont Circle NW, averaged 9,751 in monthly trips. In comparison, the location with lowest amount of use, Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave & 49th St NE, averaged only nine trips per month.
  • Station trips fluctuate seasonally due to weather conditions. The use begins to increase in April, peaks in the summer, and declines beginning October.

(click to interact with the following table)

Capital Bikeshare Arrivals and Departures Bar

Comparing arrival and departure data by station with the District of Columbia Office of Zoning land use map shows that Bikeshare traffic flows from residential areas to commercial areas. In order to compare stations, we calculated the percentage of total trips that were arrivals and departures for each station. Then we calculated the difference between the arrival rate and the departure rate to see if bikes tend to flow in or out of a station. For example, if 70 percent of all trips logged in a station are arrivals and 30 percent departures, the station’s trip balance would favor arrivals by 40 percent.

Since 2011, stations with the highest percentage of arrivals are generally located in areas of the city that are designated as commercial use and are home to offices, restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment.

Top 10 Arrivals

Conversely, stations with the highest percentage of departures are generally located in areas designated for residential use.

Top 10 Departures

The most balanced stations – those that essentially have an equal percentage of arrivals and departures – are located in a mix of residential, commercial, federal, and institutional areas.

Top 10 Most Balanced

The data we analyzed also captured another Bikeshare phenomenon that has been documented in the past. There is an imbalance between arrivals in departures across the entire system which requires an extensive redistribution program to ensure bike availability. This imbalance is captured in the survey results since 59% of respondents cite access to transportation and the ability to take one-way trips as an important factor in their decision to join the Capital Bikeshare.

What exactly is this data?

Bikeshare station location and trip data were derived from the Capital Bikeshare dashboard. Zoning and land use information was gathered from the District of Columbia Office of Planning land use maps. The survey results referenced in the post are included in the 2014 Capital Bikeshare Member Survey Report.


Take me out to the increasingly expensive ball game

As the Washington Nationals begin a new season, we wanted to take a look at how much it costs a family to attend a baseball game in the nation’s capital. Each year, analysts at Team Marketing Report of Chicago, Illinois calculate the amount of money it costs a family of four to attend a baseball game. The total cost of attending a game is calculated by adding the price of four tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking, and two adult-size hats. Team Marking Report found that in 2015 it will cost on average $211.68 per family to attend a Major League Baseball game. This is a 2.5 percent increase over 2014.

So how do the Nationals compare to the rest of Major League Baseball?

Even though the Nationals price of attendance grew at a slower rate (1.8 percent) than the major league average, the team is one of the most expensive for a family to watch in person. According to Team Marketing Report’s study, a Nationals game cost a family of four $232.08, which is the seventh highest in Major League Baseball. (click to interact)

Cost of Attendance for Family of Four

The primary reason that a Nationals game is so expensive is that regular ticket costs are the fifth highest in baseball. Hot dogs at Nationals Stadium are also expensive too – tying the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics for sixth highest at $5.25 each. On the positive side, average parking for a Nationals game is one of the lowest at $10.00.

If you are a fan that likes a bargain, we suggest attending a game in Phoenix, Arizona where the Diamondbacks take the award for having the lowest cost of attendance at $126.98. Ironically, the Diamondbacks also had the lowest winning percentage in baseball last year suggesting you pay for the product you get.

You can explore the cost of attending a Nationals game and analyze other baseball teams using the interactive tables we created.

The following table compares the cost of tickets, hot dogs, beer, parking, and soft drinks over time for each Major League Baseball team. (click to interact)

Nationals Prices

And to draw comparisons between teams, click on the following graph. (click to interact)MLB Comparison


Should we all just pack up and move to (insert city here)?

Last week we critiqued a Columbus, Ohio marketing campaign that attempts to lure area residents away by promoting the city’s low cost of living. We found that living in Columbus isn’t going to save a typical millennial as much as you might expect. This left us wondering how the cost of living in the District compares to other jurisdictions. In order to compare, we used the same methodology that we used last week. What we found is that District millennials, even after paying for expensive housing, end up with more purchasing power.

8 City Comparison

Millennials living in Baltimore, Charlotte, and New York City have similar purchasing power to those living in the District. Median monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Baltimore and Charlotte is roughly half of what residents pay in the District – however salaries in these jurisdictions are considerably less. Conversely, New York City millennials pay some of the highest rent in the country but large salaries offset the Big Apple’s exorbitant housing prices.

Unfortunately for millennials living in Boston and San Francisco, there isn’t much disposable income remaining after paying rent each month. Boston’s high housing costs and low median salary drastically reduce the amount of money millennials have to spend on non-housing goods. As for San Francisco, residents are burdened with the highest rent in the country. The median salary in the Bay Area is also high, but not high enough to offset the city’s expensive rental market. Millennials living in these housing markets might want to consider getting a roommate to help with rent.

As we stated in our post last week, millennials that want to buy a house or have children in the District will experience a larger hit to their wallets than if they lived in a comparable city. The median cost of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in D.C. is $788,000. In Charlotte it’s $255,569 and in Baltimore it’s $447,021. Child-care for two children in the District is 39 percent more expensive than in Baltimore and 62 percent more expensive than in Charlotte. Despite the large housing and child-care cost differences in these two cities, District millennials can take solace in knowing that the median cost of a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Manhattan is $1,355,865 and that child-care costs are 15 percent higher than in the District.

What exactly is this data? “Millennial” means people between the ages of 18 and 34. We got the median millennial earnings from the Census Bureau and the rent data from To compare non-housing expenses in D.C. and Columbus, we used the family budget calculator from the Economic Policy Institute. We subtracted childcare costs from the family budgets to get a more realistic budget for millennials living in cities. Data on median home prices is from NerdWallet. Child care costs are from the Economic Policy Institute.

Ginger Moored contributed to this article.