January, 2012

Does Fortune Favor Dragons?

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Why do seemingly irrational superstitions persist? This article published by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization analyzes the widely held belief among Asians that children born in the Year of the dragon are superior.

The authors 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.

The authors 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.