Year of the Dragon. Photo credit: Garry Knight, http://flic.kr/p/9jmV8t
Parents across Asia are determined to give their babies the best start in life – by making sure they are born during the Chinese Year of the Dragon. The dragon is the luckiest sign in the 12-creature Chinese zodiac, as it is the only sign represented by a mythical beast rather than an animal. Countries including China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam are bracing for a baby boom.
According to the BBC, Hong Kong and China are expecting a five percent hike in the birth rate during 2012. “Beds in the Chinese capital’s Maternity Hospital are fully booked until August and nannies in Beijing and neighbouring Tianjin have hiked their rates,” reported Ian McKinnon for The Telegraph.
But with so many “lucky” babies being born at the same time, who are the real winners?
Not the babies. The problem with a concentrated birth rate rise is that it will lead to greater competition between the “dragon babies” as they get older, pointed out Rebecca Lim at the BBC: “Schools may increase their capacity, but it still means more children battling it out in national exams to get into top schools,” wrote Lim. CBS News interviewed a Chinese dragon mother-to-be who was concerned at the prospect of a generation of lucky children battling it out in the labor market: “Many of my friends and colleagues are either expecting or plan to get pregnant this year. We really have to try harder to make the children do well at school,” she said.
Famous dragon babies include Salvador Dalí, Bill Clinton and Bruce Lee, reported Time.
Retail boom. Retailers are usually the big winners at Chinese New Year, particularly purveyors of luxury goods: “The traditional new year’s gift of renminbi stuffed into a red envelope has, in recent years, faced increased competition in China. Presents such as fine wine and jewelry are increasingly common,” wrote Josh Noble for The Financial Times. And a baby boom means increased spending: “Companies selling infant formula milk, nappies and prams are expected to cash in, as well as specialist service providers,” reported Juliana Liu for the BBC.
“Water Dragons are able to see things from other points of view. They don’t have the need to always be right,” according to ChineseZodiac
Hong Kong protest. “Lured by residency rights and in a bid to avoid China’s one-child policy, Hong Kong has seen a surge in the number of mainland women coming to give birth, prompting authorities to cap the number of births permitted in the former British colony,” wrote Sisi Tang for Reuters. According to Tang, pregnant women and hospital workers in Hong Kong staged a protest against the potential flood of mainland women putting a strain on maternity wards as they arrive to deliver their dragon babies.