General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Has anyone ever done a correlation study between marriages and obituaries in the New York Times?

Asked by elbanditoroso (15938 points ) August 26th, 2014

The NYT Style section (Sunday – Weddings section) is, in many circles, seen as the most prestigious place to have a wedding announcement. They publish a limited number each week, and, with few exceptions, tend to be the weddings of the highly educated or the well-to-do, or the hyper-connected.

NYT obituaries are also pretty exclusive. You have to have been somebody (politician, business, arts, or just quirky) to rate one a New York Times obituary.

So there are two lifecycle sections in the Times that chronicle the elite.

My question—I would find interesting to know how many of the “elite” at marriage time remain “elite” enough to be featured in an obit. To what degree does being featured in the “upper crust” last a lifetime?

[My guess—it’s a very small number, maybe 2/10 of one percent. But it’s a non-zero number.]

Anyone want to do some groundbreaking PhD research?

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4 Answers

janbb's avatar

The people in the Weddings section seem to mainly qualify because they have money; the people in the Obits have truly accomplished something. I doubt there is much correlation but I am not willing to undergo a PhD to find out.

zenvelo's avatar

As is often stated, “correlation is not causation.” Marriage does not cause death, although in my case it came close.

I imagine though that close to 100% of those in the Married section end up in the Death Notices within 75 years.

jca's avatar

There’s also a feature called “Unhitched” in the NY Times. It chronicles the breakups of marriages that were featured in the Times. They will have both sides of the story – very fascinating.

gailcalled's avatar

There is also a paid obit feature in the NYT. For a fee, you can write your own obit or eulogy, as long as you like. For those of us who now read the Times’ obits routinely, we also check the “paid” columns. There is not a similar feature for weddings.

For people who are not important enough to get the official obit, but moderately important, they will often have many paid obits, provided by family, friends, business organizations, boards and charities. Often, really big hot-shots have both.

Several years before my mother died, she pre-paid everything for her funeral including her choice of casket, linen shroud, limo, cemetery plot and a pre-paid death announcement in the Times. She had been to the local funeral parlor with her boyfriend so many times that they were on first-name terms with the director. (It gave my sister and me a brief laugh after her death.)

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