Does Fortune Favor Dragons?

Posted: 4 Nov 2010 Last revised: 20 Mar 2012

Noel D. Johnson

George Mason University - Department of Economics; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

John V. Nye

George Mason University - Department of Economics; National Research University Higher School of Economics

Date Written: November 3, 2010

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.

Keywords: Family Planning, Human Capital, Superstition, Preference Formation

JEL Classification: J13, J24, Z13

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Noel D. and Nye, John V., Does Fortune Favor Dragons? (November 3, 2010). Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 78, Nos. 1-2, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1702673 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1702673

Noel D. Johnson (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

John V. C. Nye

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-4272 (Phone)

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

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