Income distribution Burning Man attendees

Monday, August 1, 2011

There was a question on Quora about the income distribution of Burning Man attendees that piqued my interest. The data available from Black Rock City, LLC in their Afterburn Report is a little old,[1] but it also lacked a baseline (i.e., the distribution of US incomes[2]). So, I looked up some income distribution data from 2008 to answer the question.

It turns out that Burners are wealthier than an average US resident,[3] and while those earning under $35,000/year are a bit less likely to attend than average, people earning over $80,000/year are much more likely to attend. Here's the same data with in bar chart form.[4]

[1] And potentially inaccurate. With n=1573 for the data set and over 47,000 attendees it's easy to imagine that some selection bias may have come into play. There's also the question of self-reporting accuracy (for both the US Census and the Burning Man census), but we'll just have to work with what we've got.
[2] Of course not everyone from Burning Man is from the US, but a good portion are, so let's roll with it.
[3] Which makes sense, given that Burning Man is a week-long vacation that requires quite a bit of pre-planning. You don't have to be a millionaire to take part, but having a little extra cash to buy those goggles & all that sunscreen sure helps.
[4] I've been experimenting with OmniGraphSketcher & am enjoying checking out its new features. I thought the area graph did a better job of showing income distributions, but I didn't like the loss of data specificity.


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