Annual EBHS Conference, 39th Annual Economic and Business History Society Conference

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The Sons of Dragon: A Myth
Der-Yuan Yang, Chih-hsing Hung

Last modified: 2014-05-19


Man proposes, God disposes. However, human beings have been making every effort toenhance their fates with all the means within their reach since time immemorial. InTaiwan the ratio of birth by caesarian section far outweighs the norm of othercountries. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is that numerous Taiwanese believein choosing the propitious time to deliver babies could be a way to ensure theirbright future. Some Taiwanese are far more visionary, choosing a good year toconceive a baby. Most people in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan share such beliefs.

In the lunar calendar, each year is assigned a birth sign according to the traditionand there are a total of twelve birth signs: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake,horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. Each animal above has been impartedgood temperaments. Thus, whichever year people were born in, there is alwayssomething nice for them to relate to their personality. To be sure, these 12 animalshave not been created equal and some of them may not be as desirable to beassociated with. 

The emperor of China is regarded as the son of heaven, symbolized by dragon, amythical animal that does not exist. The costumes of the emperor is called dragonsuit emblazoned with a variety of dragons. The crown prince is also the posterity ofdragon, but his costume is decorated with styles of dragons distinct from those ofthe emperor since he has not yet taken over the reign. Traditionally, all Taiwanesehope to have their children born in the year of dragon and these offspring arefittingly called dragon sons and daughters, expecting them to reach the statussymbolized.        

The question is: Do those dragon sons and daughters outperform those born inother years, either in terms of power or wealth? We check the birth signs ofall the emperors of the Chinese dynasties, the presidents of Republic ofChina (now Taiwan), the leaders of the People’s Republic of China(Communist China), the kings/presidents of France, the kings/queens/premiersof Great Britain, the presidents of the US, and the Pope. If just by givingbirth in the year of dragon could bring people power, the leaders would havea higher percentage been born in the year of dragon. Furthermore, we inspectthe birth signs of some of the wealthy persons in China, Taiwan, and thewhole world to see if the dragon sons and daughters would have been moreprosperous than the others. 

The empirical tests show that those who were born in the year of dragon have notacquired more power or wealth any more than those born in the other years. One maywonder if any Taiwanese would really need to plan so far ahead to have their kidsborn in the year of dragon, unnecessarily causing stress in the job markets and thecompetition for other precious resources.