The empire of the brats
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.