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Does fortune favor dragons?

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  • Johnson, Noel D.
  • Nye, John V.C.

Abstract

Why do seemingly irrational superstitions persist? We analyze the widely held belief among Asians that children born in the Year of the dragon are superior. We use pooled cross section data from the U.S. Current Population Survey to show that Asian immigrants to the United States born in the 1976 year of the dragon are more educated than comparable immigrants from non-dragon years. In contrast, no such educational effect is noticeable for dragon-year children in the general U.S. population. We also provide evidence that Asian mothers of dragon year babies are more educated, richer, and slightly older than Asian mothers of non-dragon year children. This suggests that belief in the greater superiority of dragon-year children is self-fulfilling since the demographic characteristics associated with parents who are more willing and able to adjust their birthing strategies to have dragon children are also correlated with greater investment in their human capital.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 78 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 85-97

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:78:y:2011:i:1:p:85-97

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Family Planning; Human Capital; Superstition; Preference formation;

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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  2. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  3. Levine, David & Fudenberg, Drew, 2006. "Superstition and Rational Learning," Scholarly Articles 3196330, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Wing Suen, 2004. "The Self-Perpetuation of Biased Beliefs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 377-396, 04.
  5. Cigno, Alessandro & Ermisch, John, 1989. "A microeconomic analysis of the timing of births," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 737-760, April.
  6. Ka-Fu Wong & Linda Yung, 2005. "Do Dragons Have Better Fate?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 689-697, July.
  7. James P. Vere, 2008. "Dragon Children: Identifying the Causal Effect of the First Child on Female Labour Supply with the Chinese Lunar Calendar," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 70(3), pages 303-325, 06.
  8. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, May.
  9. Berger, Mark C, 1985. "The Effect of Cohort Size on Earnings Growth: A Reexamination of the Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 561-73, June.
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