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 The New Year's Baby Problem 
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Joined: June 15th, 2011, 10:22 pm
Posts: 281
Location: Bristol, UK
Here is a vaguely pointless but intriguing question...

As far as I know, the time of birth that is recorded is taken from the nearest available clock in the delivery room. Now we all know that normal clocks are all slightly different depending on the accuracy with which they were set. So say someone is born very near to 12:00/00:00 on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day according to the clock in the delivery room. The problem is that another clock will record the birth as one side of the line, and another will record it as the other side. So, in this situation it seems obvious that the doctor would turn to the parents and ask to choose one of the days.

So the question is, what would most people go for?

My prediction is that parents would prefer the official date to be 1st January rather than the 31st December. Others disagreed claiming that nobody goes out on the 1st January, but of course they do on the 31st December. This is illogical, because one who's official birthday is the 1st January could go out on the 31st December, and then literally count down the seconds until their birthday arrives, with the rest of the New Year crowd. In this situation, the birthday boy/girl gets the best of both worlds: a great night out with lots of people, followed by a massive countdown to their official birthday!

Do you agree? We could test this by looking at the birth certificates of all those born within, say, 5 minutes of midnight on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. We could then see if there was an inequality in the number of births recorded on each side of the line.

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Alex Vocat


January 1st, 2012, 1:45 pm
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm
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AlexVocat wrote:
Do you agree? We could test this by looking at the birth certificates of all those born within, say, 5 minutes of midnight on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. We could then see if there was an inequality in the number of births recorded on each side of the line.
I think you'd need to look at more than just that one night - there may be similar biases on other end-of-month days. But I'm not sure those data are published - they may be in this page, but I can't read spreadsheets on this machine, so I can't look to see what's there.

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Alan Henness

"We're all in this together, but some are more in it than others."
— Me, with apologies to Napoleon


January 1st, 2012, 8:33 pm
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