What's the Going Rate for a Tooth From the Tooth Fairy?

04/28/2017 12:27 pm ET
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What's the going rate for a tooth from the Tooth Fairy these days? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Aaron Yip, optimistic human, software engineer, on Quora:

The White House economics team, back in 2014, held an informal meeting in the West Wing about this very question: How much is a tooth worth from the Tooth Fairy? [1]

Yep, as it happens, a lot of smart people have taken this question seriously.

Moreover, there is surprisingly good data on this: The Original Tooth Fairy Poll

Delta Dental insurance have been collecting annual data on national average tooth-fairy-determined tooth prices for close to two decades now. What’s interesting is that the data follows the movement of the S&P 500 and functions reasonably well as a barometer for the US economy.

So what does that mean? As the economy performs better, as average salaries increase, kids are likely one of the primary benefactors. Parents dote on their kids a bit more, and seeing this, the tooth fairy starts splurging a bit more too.

Wait, is there a correlation between how much income parents have with how much income the tooth fairy has? Hmm, perhaps this is a question for another day…

These numbers also illustrate a certain age inequality. It’s fantastic to be born around 2005–2006 — you’re losing your teeth all around a peak valuation when teeth prices spiked up by 125%. Comparably, it sucks to be born just two-three years earlier when the going rate of your teeth was less than half. Think about the implications. In middle schools throughout the United States, half of the kids became wealthier and better off than the other half.

Back when I was growing up in the 90s, teeth were going for $1. Today, the tooth fairy is paying in the $4-$5 range for them.

The inflation for teeth is nearly 10% whereas actual inflation sits much lower around 2%. If teeth inflation is any indication for similar effects on overall childhood income, kids are extremely well off today; their purchasing power grew at double or triple the cost of ice cream, Nerf guns, Pokemon cards, fruit snacks, and other delightful goods. But if you’re a teenager already? Well, sorry.

Footnotes

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