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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Commentary

The empire of the brats

Foreign Policy
Published:
WASHINGTON -

Economists and psychologists have fretted since the 1980s that China’s one-child policy is creating a generation of “little emperors” — millions upon millions of pampered only children.

But just how do you go about measuring the creation of an entire generation of spoiled brats?

In a recent study published in Science, a group of Australian economists ran common behavioral-economics tests on Beijing residents born in the years just before 1979, when the one-child policy went into effect, and the years just afterward, when the proportion of only children reached 91 percent.

Only children, not surprisingly, end up more selfish and less well-adjusted.

On the other hand, the only-child participants outperformed their elders on a test of math ability.

Kid-minus-siblings equals algebra whiz?


Joshua Keating writes the War of Ideas blog for Foreign Policy, where he is associate editor.

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