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Superstition, family planning, and human development


  • Do, Quy-Toan
  • Phung, Tung Duc


Are wanted and unwanted children treated equally by their parents? To address this question, the authors rely on the observation that, according to Vietnamese astrology, dates of birth are believed to be determinants of success, luck, character, and good match between individuals. They then examine fertility decisions made in Vietnam between 1976 and 1996. The authors find that birth cohorts in auspicious years are significantly larger than in other years. Children born in auspicious years moreover do better both in health and education. While parental characteristics seem to affect fertility choices and human development simultaneously, their analysis suggests that family planning is one key mechanism leading to the observed differences in outcomes: in a society in which superstition is widespread, children born in auspicious years are more likely to have been planned by their parents, thus benefiting from more favorable financial, psychological, or emotional conditions for better human development.

Suggested Citation

  • Do, Quy-Toan & Phung, Tung Duc, 2006. "Superstition, family planning, and human development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4001, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4001

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Lokshin & Sergiy Radyakin, 2012. "Month of Birth and Children’s Health in India," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 174-203.
    2. Monica Das Gupta & Woojin Chung & Li Shuzhuo, 2009. "Evidence for an Incipient Decline in Numbers of Missing Girls in China and India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(2), pages 401-416.
    3. Wilman Javier Iglesias Pinedo & Bladimir Carrillo Bermudez, 2016. "Month Of Birth And Socioeconomic Outcomes Of Adults: Evidence From Brazil," Anais do XLIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 43rd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 196, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    4. David Stifel & Marcel Fafchamps & Bart Minten, 2009. "Taboos, agriculture and poverty," CSAE Working Paper Series 2009-15, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

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    Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Youth and Governance; Adolescent Health; Population Policies; Gender and Social Development;

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