Baby talk

Next Wednesday lunchtime, I’ll be presenting in the CRPSM lunchtime seminar series at the University of Canberra. Please come if you’re in the area.

Date: Wed 29 Nov
Time: 12:30-1:30pm
Venue: Room 6c35, Building 6 (one floor up from the usual room, apparently)
Topic: Choosing Birthdays (joint research with Joshua Gans, Melbourne University)
Advances in birth technology have given doctors and parents an increasing ability to shift children’s birth dates. Using three decades of daily births data, we test to see what factors affect the timing of births. Were more babies born on the Millennium? Do parents avoid inauspicious birthdates? Does the lunar cycle affect births? Why are weekend births less common now than in the past? Did the introduction of the Baby Bonus affect births? Does the birth rate decline when obstetricians hold their annual conference? And when doctors and patients disagree about birth timing, who wins?

Having written quite a bit on births lately, it’s probably now time for me to admit that my wife is expecting our first child in February. Who said economics research was useless?

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13 Responses to Baby talk

  1. Andrew – Good to see that you will be doing some added empirical research on the ‘economics of the family’:) Congratulations.

  2. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Practical knowledge is always better than theoretical knowledge. 🙂 Well done.

    As a practical matter, being heavily pregnant over the summer is very uncomfortable so invest in airconditioning, and banana-shaped pillows for support.

  3. Patrick says:


    Sincs is right, but having done both extremes, on the other hand there is nothing better than nappy-only-clad pudgy little summer babies, and on the whole they seem pretty oblivious to the heat.

    Invest, most practically, in those little water-spray aerosols. Your wife may scoff once but she’ll never thank you enough later!

  4. Congratulations Andrew!!! I guess we’ll be seeing more work on education from you over the next few years? Maybe a comparative study of the performance of Canberra’s primary schools?

  5. Steve Edney says:

    Congratulations Andrew, my first child is 11 months and the whole experience is wonderful if a little exhausting at times.

  6. Patrick says:

    If you produce a good methodology for comparing primary schools, you willl really be onto something!

  7. Michael Moriarty says:


    Congtatulations !! If its not too late and you can access the data look at the birth rate for 8/8/88. You should have a particular focus on Asian countries and other countries with high asian populations. then also look at 8/8/xx. As a comparitive point look at 4/4/xx in Asian countries as well. I am betting there will be some interesting results.


  8. Russell Hamilton says:

    I think Sinclair is paraphrasing Mao :

    “Marxists regard man’s activity in production as the most fundamental practical activity, the determinant of all his other activities. Man’s knowledge depends mainly on his activity in material production, through which he comes gradually to understand the phenomena, the properties and the laws of nature, and the relations between himself and nature; and through his activity in production he also gradually comes to understand, in varying degrees, certain relations that exist between man and man. None of this knowledge can be acquired apart from activity in production. ”

    Perhaps Sinclair was educated in a state school system?

    Congratulations Andrew …. when can we start suggesting names?

  9. Christine says:

    So, if you move over to NAmerica (esp. Canada, I imagine), your child has a better than average chance of growing up to play elite ice hockey.

    Wouldn’t make the move on that basis, but do recommend ice skating lessons for pre-schoolers – they’re just really really funny.

    Hearty congratulations to you and your wife.

  10. Andrew Leigh says:

    Thanks for all the kind words.

    Russell, I have a names posting half-written, which I’ll put up next week.

  11. Ben says:

    Be careful Andrew. I’m told by a friend that one of the children’s hospitals has done a study on “poor prognosis names” which showed that the name of a child could correlate with health outcomes.

    I just hope that you don’t use current events as inspiration. I’d be concerned that little Milton might get picked on.

  12. Sinclair Davidson says:

    ‘Perhaps Sinclair was educated in a state school system?’

    Christian Brothers, actually. Not too many Moaists there 🙂

    On names, beware. I have wanted to call all my children “Harley” but alas, no – women can be so unreasonable.

    For the number two son, after many hours of looking at names, I saw the name “Saxon” and, as a joke, added it to the (long) list. Then we started eliminating names – Saxon Rory will be 7 tomorrow.

  13. Sacha says:

    Congrats Andrew 🙂

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