IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Does fortune favor dragons?


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


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnson, Noel D. & Nye, John V.C., 2011. "Does fortune favor dragons?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 85-97.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:78:y:2011:i:1:p:85-97
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2010.12.010

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, January.
    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 279-288, Part II, .
    3. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2006. "Superstition and Rational Learning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 630-651, June.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1975:65:2:170-174_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    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. Quy-Toan Do & Tung D. Phung, 2010. "The Importance of Being Wanted," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 236-253, October.
    7. Wing Suen, 2004. "The Self-Perpetuation of Biased Beliefs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 377-396, April.
    8. 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, June.
    9. Ka-Fu Wong & Linda Yung, 2005. "Do Dragons Have Better Fate?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 689-697, July.
    10. 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 561-573, June.
    11. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Evgeny A. Antipov & Elena B. Pokryshevskaya, 2015. "Are buyers of apartments superstitious? Evidence from the Russian real estate market," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 10(6), pages 590-592, November.
    2. Naci H. Mocan & Han Yu, 2017. "Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children of China," NBER Working Papers 23709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Elena B. Pokryshevskaya & Evgeny A. Antipov, 2015. "A study of numerological superstitions in the apartments market," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(1), pages 83-88.
    4. Agarwal, Sumit & He, Jia & Liu, Haoming & Png, I. P. L. & Sing, Tien Foo & Wong, Wei-Kang, 2016. "Superstition, Conspicuous Spending, and Housing Markets: Evidence from Singapore," IZA Discussion Papers 9899, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Family Planning; Human Capital; Superstition; Preference formation;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:78:y:2011:i:1:p:85-97. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.