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Seminar: Zodiacal Birth Timing Cycles in East Asia: An Update

Daniel Goodkind, Demographer, Independent Researcher, Arlington Virginia
When Sep 16, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

In East Asian societies, the animals of the 12-year zodiac calendar are sometimes taken to signify whether a year may be auspicious or inauspicious to have a birth. This presentation reviews prior research which confirms that parents have attempted to time births in accordance with the zodiac calendar. The animal years in which birth fluctuations occur are distinct across Chinese, Japanese, and Korean societies, and within such societies the propensity towards zodiacal birth timing has differed markedly – for example, such practices occur among Chinese societies throughout the world (including in the United States), but not in China itself. Moreover, in many societies lunar birth timing did not occur until the 1970s. Thus, parental motivations for such timing are based not simply on traditional beliefs, but also broader historical and societal contexts. Has zodiacal birth timing continued in the most recent cycle? We consider evidence from Chinese societies in two of the most significant animal years - the Tiger Year of 2010 and the just-completed Dragon Year of 2012.

About the Speaker

Daniel Goodkind

Daniel Goodkind received a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 in Demography and Sociology.  His dissertation examined the propensity among East Asian parents to time births according to the lunar zodiac calendar.  Daniel attempted a “kitchen sink” research approach to this topic – international field work, comparative statistical analysis, as well as reviews of ethnographic texts and mass media.  Thereafter, during postdoctoral fellowships at the Australian National University and the University of Michigan (in anthropological demography), he implemented several small-scale surveys in Vietnam on issues ranging from institutional change to sensitive questions about HIV transmission.  Since 1998, Daniel has been at the U.S. Census Bureau, where much of his work has involved estimation and projection of demographic trends in Asia based on various (and often conflicting) data sources.  He has also given workshops or technical assistance in China, India, Bangladesh, Jordan, Mozambique and Zambia.  In recent years, much of his research has focused on two topics:  mortality trends in North Korea and estimation of fertility and sex imbalance in China.  Daniel’s publications have appeared in a variety of journals, including Demography, Social Forces, Pacific Affairs, International Migration Review, Research on Aging, Population Studies, and Urban Studies.

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