I was having a hard time parsing this NYT article about the correlation between the number of kids born in the last week of the year--between Christmas and New Year's--an increase in the value of dependent-related tax deductions.
In the last decade, September has lost its unchallenged status as the time for what we will call National Birth Day, the day with more births than any other. Instead, the big day fell between Christmas and New Year’s Day in four of the last seven years — 1997 through 2003 — for which the government has released birth statistics. (The day was in September during the other years; conception still matters. [whew. -ed.]) Based on this year’s calendar, there is a good chance that National Birth Day will take place a week from tomorrow, on Thursday, Dec. 28.But the economists' research mentioned in the article was from 1999, before the big year-end baby rush.
And the analysis that higher income families "who, presumably, are more likely to be paying for tax advice" have more December babies ignores--among other things--the fact that the $500 child tax credit is worth less to them as a percentage of total income, and that they get no earned income tax credit at all.
I've never heard of anyone planning a December baby to have a tax deduction, but I've heard of plenty of people who'd rather be in sweaters than bikinis in their third trimesters. There's a whole host of birth date drivers that seem more relevant than the tax code; what's their correlation?
Conception still matters, after all, and it sounds like some economists could use a refresher course in how babies are made. Is there a statistically signficiant correlation between taking that last week off and, say, mid-September births? How about studying the correlation between parents' birthdays and the conception dates of third and fourth kids?
The article becomes clear at the end, where we find out the writer--and new dad, congrats--David Leonhardt, was born on January 1. Kudos for managing to slip a personal rumination on the deep meaning of your existence into the Business section, even if he never mentions whether his parents' anniversary is April 10th.