October 19, 2010

Does Fortune Favor Dragons?

John Nye

Frederic Bastiat Chair in Political Economy, Mercatus Center

John Nye presented on why irrational superstitions persist at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. 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.