Dragon Babies 🍼. Chinese Zodiac Influence on Fertility. Trends in Teen Pregnancy in the US. Where Is the World Heading?

Dragon Babies 🍼. Chinese Zodiac Influence on Fertility. Trends in Teen Pregnancy in the US. Where Is the World Heading?

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China is losing its power — the workforce. A study by financier Ray Dalio shows that China's labor force has been shrinking at a record pace since 1961. It is shrinking by 5 million a year to date, and by 8 million a year from 2030. Alarm bells are ringing warning of a looming staffing drought that could leave the country short 200 million workers by 2050, equivalent to the entire U.S. labor force. Could this be the year that turns the tide? Yes, all thanks to the Year of the Dragon, writes the Washington Post in an article, “Could the Year of the Dragon bring the baby boom that Asia needs?”

Diving deep into the heart of Chinese astrology — a belief system that's been around for nearly 2,000 years — the dragon stands out. It's not just any zodiac animal; it's the crème de la crème, a mythical powerhouse believed to bestow success and good fortune on those born under its watch.

Within the Chinese zodiac's menagerie of 12 animals, each creature boasts its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Even the rat, hailed for its cleverness and agility, and the snake, with its dragon-esque appearance, are deemed fortuitous beings. Unlike its zodiac counterparts, some of which carry less favorable connotations, the dragon is in a league of its own. It's the embodiment of intelligence, confidence, and ambition. This reputation is so strong that couples go to great lengths, from IVF treatments to strategically planned C-sections, to ensure their offspring arrive in the dragon's year. Schools even brace for a bump in enrollment, adding extra classes to accommodate the dragon-year baby boom.

ScienceDirect publishes statistics, how lucky and unlucky years on the Chinese Zodiac influence the timing of births.

chart Chinese Zodiac signs іnfluences on fertility

Even state leaders are getting in on the action. Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, recently made headlines with his call to citizens, encouraging them to welcome a "little dragon" into their families. It's clear: when the dragon roars, Asia listens.

The belief in the power of the Year of the Dragon might have more than just folklore behind it. A 2019 study of Louisiana State University & Texas A&M University, diving into data from China, uncovered something intriguing: kids born in dragon years were not only acing university entrance exams at higher rates but also more likely to boast a college degree. Even more, the girls in this group were often taller. But it wasn't just the stars that made the magic happen. It boiled down to the dedication and resources that parents poured into these "dragon children."

Naci Mocan, an economics professor at Louisiana State University and co-author of the study, put it plainly, "It's the belief that dragon kids have something special that sparks this cycle [of baby boom]. When people have these kids, they invest in them and expect great things from them. This support and belief fuel the kids' success. That’s why this has been going on for centuries and generations."

In China, where the Lunar New Year is more than just a holiday — it's the heartbeat of the nation — there's a hopeful gaze towards this ancient belief to kickstart a baby boom. Hospitals are even stepping into the mix, offering couples schedules and advice on the perfect timing to conceive a dragon baby. One such advisory from the Huantai Maternity and Child Healthcare Hospital in Shandong province didn't mince words: "Now's the time! Use these months wisely to plan for your baby, backed by science."

Zhai Zhenwu, a guiding voice for the National Health and Family Planning Commission, shared with Times Finance this January a slice of optimism. The strong preference for astrological timing among the Chinese population signals a potential uptick in the fertility rate this year.

A young Chinese couple belief in dragon babies boosting China's birth rate during the Lunar New Year

Illustration created by Pythia.Guru using DALL-E AI

This comes at a critical juncture for the world's second-largest economy, teetering on the brink of a demographic cliff. Despite easing up on family planning policies — now allowing couples up to three children — and rolling out subsidies and other incentives, the allure of parenthood is fading for many in the younger generations.

With new births in 2023 marking a seventh consecutive year of decline, plummeting to 9.02 million (a sharp drop from 2017's figures), China's robust population of 1.4 billion is on a trajectory that could see it halved by 2100.

"The Year of the Dragon's lucky charm might give us a slight edge," observes Huang Wenzheng, a demographics expert and senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing. "A bit of innovative thinking from the government to promote baby-making could nudge the fertility rate up by a tiny 0.01 percent," he suggests.

Both Huang and Naci Mocan, an economist, are betting on the dragon year to potentially usher in an extra million new babies, bumping the total births for the year to around 10 million. It's not a shot in the dark; history shows us spikes in dragon years, with increases of nearly 300,000 in 2000 and a whopping 900,000 in 2012, according to Mocan's research.

A precursor to this hopeful surge? Marriage rates are on the rise. The first nine months of 2023 saw a 4.5 percent increase in marriages compared to the same period the year before, with projections hitting 7 million by year's end, up from 6.8 million in 2022.

In recent days, health experts have seen a spike in fertility inquiries, alluding to an enthusiastic public eager to bring new and propitious life into the world. Sherry Yang, who escorts Chinese females to fertility clinics in Kazakhstan, has received more requests than she had expected to, pandemic or not. Neither her rooms are filled to the capacity, yet the economic realities of her homeland were unimportant in this regard. One couple was expecting three dragon babies, and Yang assisted them in successful IVF treatment. In August, the triplets are expected to arrive.

Caesarean section may be used to ensure a vital moment. This inclination toward the birth clock prompted some medical experts to offer abortion concern the worst was doomed if the year outside China’s New Year doubt were out of the dragon year. “Several geographic birth year-related inquests notice scheduling C-sections for earlier delivery,” some physicians indicated.

Yang, however, argues that much of this heat is much of a return to pre-covid norms. “The future three years has proven hey-dismal with those attempting to birth. All the instructions and locks of health codes are the rules to foist the policy in China: a zero-COVID hat senses.”

Some people are born lucky. Yet, in China, leaving a child's destiny to the whims of fortune is a notion some parents prefer to sidestep.

Zhang Xiaolei’s tale serves as a reminder of the role zodiacal timing plays in family planning. Their first reunion as a betrothed couple, Zhang Xiaolei jokes, was to take out the Chinese zodiac calendar. “The decision was unanimous: we were to avoid a sheep year birth at all costs,” explains Zhang Xiaolei, a 26-year-old civil servant from Shandong province. Her husband stopped drinking and took up more athletics, while she started eating better and sleeping more in an effort to increase their chances. Nevertheless, it turned out to be insufficient. “After a year and a half of attempting, we failed. Either the stress defeated us,” she says with a caustic tone. 

The complex topic of the dragon baby trend

The Dragon Year's Effect Isn't Confined to China

The zodiacal influence may be felt in other Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. Teresa Tan, a postpartum care nanny, is fully booked until September. Her reservations increased by 40% over the previous year. “The dragon year's influence is unmistakable,” she adds. 

Over in Taipei, Taiwan, Cathy Tsai from Infancix, a postpartum-care center, reports a significant change in client behavior. Expectant mothers are securing their spots as early as seven or eight weeks into their pregnancy, a stark contrast to the usual 12-week wait. It seems the dragon year's allure is casting a wide net, sparking hope and action across Asia.

Mak Ling-ling, a well-known Hong Kong fortuneteller, has piqued interest. Clients are sending requests one after the next, and the calls come from “female celebrities but won’t be named,” all of whom want a dragon year for her child. “The dragon baby competition is fierce,” says Mak Lingling. “The zodiac may influence the Chinese birth rate greatly, but the current financial struggle poses serious challenge-reaching darkness.”

In all honesty, the economy will not cope with this, and there will be a substantial shadow cast on birth rates. Extrapolating from how various predictions came to fruition, unless China’s hampered growth or significant shifts launch from its established policies, a real spike in childbirth forecasts is still a fantasy.

Poh Lin Tan, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, points out a critical nuance in this zodiac-driven baby boom phenomenon. "Studies, including those from Hong Kong, indicate that while zodiac considerations might influence the timing of births, they do little to address the underlying issue of declining fertility rates," she explains.

Huang, the Beijing-based demographer, critiques Chinese policy measures as too timid. "At the national level, there's a lack of substantial incentives, and local governments' small financial subsidies hardly make a dent," he comments.

Yet, the allure of ancient beliefs persists. Han Yu, an economist at the University of Memphis who contributed to the 2019 study on dragon year children, is himself keen on having a child this lunar year. His personal connection to the dragon year — being a dragon child himself — adds a layer of nostalgia and pride. "Growing up, being a dragon felt special. I think it's pretty cool to have a dragon baby, especially when the dad's a dragon too," he shares, highlighting the enduring charm of these age-old traditions.

Why Millennials Are Putting Parenthood on Hold

Nowadays, it seems like the younger generation is taking their time when it comes to starting families. Take 28-year-old Sophia Wang from Beijing, who's all in for prioritizing her own goals first. Working in marketing at a consulting firm, she dreams of a DINK lifestyle — that's "double income, no kids" for the uninitiated. "I'm open to marriage, but having kids? That's a hard pass for me," Wang explains. "Our parents thought raising kids was a breeze — just feed them and watch them grow. But we see it differently."

The decline in fertility isn't just a problem in China. In the United States, demographers and journalists alike are digging deep into why fewer babies are being born, pointing fingers at familiar culprits like job security, childcare expenses, scarce parental leave, and soaring housing costs.

Demographic Crisis and the Year of the Dragon

Culture Effects Matters on Fertility in the Long Run

The National Center for Health Statistics notes an interesting pattern: people tend to dodge holiday birthdays. It appears no one wants their social calendar or vacation plans disrupted by a Christmas Day delivery. This preference, mirrored by a dip in holiday births and a spike in C-sections around these dates, shows a clear intent to avoid holiday childbirth.

Globally, the impact of holidays and cultural observances on birth timings is undeniable, with documented shifts during Christmas, summer breaks in the Czech Republic, Ramadan in Israel, New Year's in France, and the Ghost Month in Taiwan.

Indeed, American TV shows such as 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom managed to push back the numbers of pregnancies among teens, and the increased number of online searches regarding birth control and abortion did the rest. Without doubt, the mentioned examples often faced considerable criticism. But, as The Institute for Family Studies writes, “the latter development has coincided with a decline in young-age pregnancies that was so pronounced and consistent that there is little doubt many of the empirical patterns would also stand up to replication over the corresponding time period.” 

absurdity of excessive phone use of young people

However, the fall in young pregnancies was not mirrored by the increased numbers of newborns in older age groups. In reality, the numbers were even lower, as the same source above suggests. The power of showbiz on general trends of fertility is evidenced by numerous studies spanning virtually all countries in the world. In Brazil, the life of a birth of a child may be significantly affected by the percentage of children characters of soap operas have. Moreover, the naming can also change, as it was demonstrated in the 1990s. Higher watching rates in the end practically correlate with lower rates of eros likely to impact fertility. Of course, the list also includes the most technologized country, the US, where a high level of smartphone is deemed to lower sexual interest. Thus, the patterns take as from the individual, randomly distributed incidents to full-fledged societal myths affecting long-term fertility outcomes.

The transmission of societal values through generations could be an argument that cultural factors are embedded strongly and act over time. Indeed, as Bastien Chabe-Ferret demonstrates, it is a lot more than mere transmission. The norms are somewhat weakly followed, yet they never disappear. Indeed, one of the more curious results rested in reversing the model of the male-breadwinner and marriage. Despite the fact that higher adherence might lead to marriage into this model in a group, tips the wider adherence to the same model is seemingly plunging marriage rates. This particular study based on that notion even claims that feminism is the new natalism.

When Haber and his co-authors at Demographic Research state that the west has seen relationship norms shift towards egalitarian values, they also imply that more women are willing to have families. However, their study discards any correlation between these changes and increased fertility rates on a global scale. This means that the American women’s yearning to have children is paired with a corresponding obstacle, which is not their willingness. 

Lyman Stone, from the Institute for Family Studies and the American Enterprise Institute, emphasizes the fertility awareness gap between men and women and the fact that many of the latter do not suspect their chances of facing fertility challenges. In this case, a realistic understanding of their fertility information, the challenges of delayed childbearing, and the implications of their choices on family planning would be part of the sexual education the population requires.

Can I Use Astrology to Get Pregnant? How Does it Work?

Understanding that astrology is not a medical science, some people find it offers emotional support and a unique, holistic perspective on their fertility journey.

Still, how to plan your pregnancy using astrology:

  • Understanding Your Astrological Chart
  • Syncing with Lunar Cycles (The moon’s phases have long been associated with fertility and growth)
  • Venus: The Beacon of Fertility. Venus, echoing the allure and nurturing essence of Aphrodite, plays a pivotal role in fertility, love, and attraction. Its position in your chart, especially when gracing the 5th house, is auspicious for planning offspring.
  • Jupiter: The Progenitor. Jupiter's lore is rich with tales of offspring, symbolizing abundance and prosperity. Its influence in your chart can indicate periods of heightened fertility and blessings.
  • Chiron Transits: A Cosmic Nudge. The transits of Chiron, particularly to the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, and the Ascendant, are seen as harbors of fertile potential, signaling opportune moments for conception.

A young woman looks at the starry sky while planning a pregnancy using astrology

What If the 5th House Is Empty?

An unoccupied 5th house doesn't spell a childless future. Instead, it suggests that children may not be the central theme of your life's narrative. Yet, as planets dance through this space, the seeds of parental desire might start to sprout, drawing your attention to the prospect of family life.

Can An Astrologer Help You Get Pregnant?

Yeah, he or she will tell you that at ages 28 and 40, the fifth house is most active. If you are interested in using the astrological method, there are fertility chart calculators that try to predict a baby's zodiac sign and potential gender.

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