Superstition effects versus cohort effects: is it bad luck to be born in the year of the fire horse in Japan?
- 359 Downloads
The year of the fire horse (called “Hinoeuma” in Japanese) is one of the sixty Chinese zodiac symbols used to count years. According to superstition, fire horse women are said to have troubled marriages, to mistreat men, and to cause early deaths for their husbands and fathers. No such stigma applies to men born in these years. This paper attempts to investigate the impact of women’s birth in the most recent fire horse year (1966) on the outcome of their lives by using individual-level microdata. We find that there is no evidence of disadvantages to fire horse women in human capital investment, performance in the marriage market, or intra-household allocation of resources after marriage. We provide two plausible explanations for this lack of impact from the stigma: a cohort size effect and a dynamic transition in the share of arranged and love marriages. The latter affected parents’ decisions in 1966 as well as the performance of fire horse women in the marriage market and in intra-household resource allocation after marriage. This finding suggests the importance of careful attention to the dynamic effects of society and the economy that may occur before the emergence of a cohort size effect.
KeywordsSuperstition Cohort Fire horse Marriage
JEL ClassificationI31 J11 J12 J16 N35
The Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers (JPSC) is a project of The Institute for Research on Household Economics. I would like to thank the institute for permission to use the data. I would like to thank Chris Rohlfs, Kazuo Yamaguchi, Yasuyuki Sawada, Keita Suga, and Alexander Reed for helpful comments and suggestions. All errors remain my own.
- Akabayashi, H. (2007). Lives of Hinoeuma (Fiery Horse) generation: Evidence from the statistics. The Japanese Journal of Labour Studies.Google Scholar
- Azumi, K. (1968). The mysterious drop in Japan’s birth rate. Trans-Action, 5(6), 46–48.Google Scholar
- Becker, S. G. (1981). A treatise on the family. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Caldwell, C. J., Reddy, P. H., & Caldwell, P. (1983). The causes of marriage change in South India. Population Studies, 37(November), 343–361.Google Scholar
- Cho, S. (2002, January 1). Horse year panic. Korea Herald, Seoul.Google Scholar
- Cortese, J. (2004). Onna No Hinoeuma: What it means to be a fire horse woman. Available at: http://www.io.com/~cortese/hinoeuma/index.html.
- Edlund, L., Li, H., Yi, J., & Zhang, J. (2007). Sex ratios and crime: Evidence from China’s one-child policy. IZA discussion paper no. 3214.Google Scholar
- Grossbard-Shechtman, A. S. (1993). On the economics of marriage. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Houston, J. W. (2003). The legend of fire horse woman. New York: Kensington Books.Google Scholar
- Institute for Research on Household Economics. Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers (1993–2000).Google Scholar
- Itoh, T., & Bando, R. (1987). Fertility change of the year of Hinoe-uma. Jinko Mondai Kenkyu, 181, 31–43.Google Scholar
- Japan. Statistics Bureau, Director-General for Policy Planning and Statistical Research and Training Institute. http://www.stat.go.jp/english/index.htm.
- Kaku, K. (1972). Are physicians sympathetic to superstition? A study of Hinoe-Uma. Social Biology, 19(1), 60–64.Google Scholar
- Kim, T. (1997). The effects of sex-selective abortion on fertility level in Korea. Korea Journal of Population and Development, 26(1), 43–60.Google Scholar
- Kurosu, S. (1994). Sex ratios and the years of the fire horse (Hinoeuma): Cultural and regional experiences in Japan. In A. Faune-Chamoux & S. Sgaer (Eds.), Socio-economic consequences of sex-ratios in historical perspective. Milan: University of Bocconi.Google Scholar
- National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. The national survey on marriage and childbirth. Available at http://www.ipss.go.jp/ps-doukou/j/doukou12/doukou12.htmL.
- Park, C. B., & Cho, N. (1994). Gender preference and sex imbalance in the population and their implications in Korea. Journal of the Population Association of Korea, 17(1), 87–114.Google Scholar