Numerological Preferences, Timing of Births and the Long-term Effect on Schooling

October 2019

Cheng Huang, Xiaojing Ma, Shiying Zhang, Qingguo Zhao

IIEP working paper 2019-16

Abstract: Cultural beliefs may affect demographic behaviors. According to traditional Chinese astrology, babies born on auspicious days will have good luck in their lifetime, whereas those born on inauspicious days will have bad luck. Using administrative data from birth certificates in Guangdong, China, we provide empirical evidence on the short-term effects of such numerological preferences. We find that approximately 3.9% extra births occur on auspicious days and 1.4% of births are avoided on inauspicious days. Additionally, there is a higher male/female sex ratio for births on auspicious days. Since such manipulation of the birthdate is typically performed through scheduled C-sections, C-section births increase significantly on auspicious days. Moreover, we use a second dataset to examine the long-term effect of numerological preferences and find that people born on auspicious days are more likely to attend college.

Keywords: Numerological preferences. Birthdate . Timed births. Chinese astrology

JEL: I21 . Z10 .J13 . D19

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