Raising Dragons

29 Pages Posted: 2 Jan 2015 Last revised: 8 Mar 2015

See all articles by John V. Nye

John V. Nye

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Mercatus Center; National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Melanie Meng Xue

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: December 31, 2014


We study why China suddenly exhibited a large surge in births -- a 50% increase in 2000 relative to 1999 -- in the 2000 Year of the Dragon by disaggregating birth rates at the city level. We define the dragon effect as a relative jump in birth rates compared to the trend. Prior to 2000, Asian nations with large numbers of ethnic Chinese -- but not China -- exhibited strong dragon year effects. We exploit the uneven economic growth of regions in China to understand the emergence of the dragon effect. We find that the dragon effect was most pronounced in rapidly developing cities having higher incomes, higher average education, and greater employment prospects as proxied by the share of non-local residents. Our main findings at the city level are supported by our micro-level analysis, where we show the dragon effect to be strongly correlated with educational attainment of family members and membership in a multi-generational household.

Keywords: Economic Development, Culture, Fertility, China

JEL Classification: J13, O15, P23, Z13

Suggested Citation

Nye, John V. C. and Xue, Melanie Meng, Raising Dragons (December 31, 2014). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 15-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2544270 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2544270

John V. C. Nye

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

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

Mercatus Center ( email )

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

National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow)

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017

Melanie Meng Xue (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.melaniexue.net/

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