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Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children in China

Naci Mocan and Han Yu

Journal of Human Capital, 2020, vol. 14, issue 4, 485 - 534

Abstract: In China, those who have a dragon zodiac sign are believed to be destined for greatness. We find that if Chinese students are born in a dragon year, they are more likely to have a college degree and receive higher university entrance exam scores. Similarly, Chinese middle school dragon students have higher test scores. The “dragon effect” on test scores is eliminated when we account for parents’ expectations of their children. Dragon parents have higher expectations, and they invest more in their children. Although dragon children are not inherently different, the belief in the prophecy of success and the ensuing investment become self-fulfilling.

Date: 2020
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