The Tooth Fairy Is Tracking the Recession

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Of all economic indicators, this is the one that best illustrates to little kids just how "great" the Great Recession was. According to the Original Tooth Fairy Poll, run by the Delta Dental Plans Association, the fetching price of a child's tooth fell by 42 cents, to $2.10 from $2.52, between 2010 and 2011. The drop is seemingly due to parents the tooth fairy (this is a family blog!) having less cash to dole out to kids. The poll also claims that the price of a tooth tracks with the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1998, when Delta Dental Plans started surveying the question. In 2011, the association received responses from 1,355 parents tooth fairies.

We're not about to start speculating on stock based off of a few dollars under our pillows. (The most common tooth fairy payout is $1.) But as odd an index as the Tooth Fairy's asking price per tooth is, Delta Dental Plans isn't the only organization tracking it. Visa, Inc., the credit card company, also does, finding in a survey released in July that the average tooth fetched 40 cents less in 2010 than it did in 2010.  

That at least two groups monitor the fluctuations in the tooth market shows folks' interest in latching onto anecdotal and offbeat stats to understand the economy. Similarly, observers have noticed that during economic downturns lipstick sales go up (as women buy it as an "affordable luxury") and women wear longer skirts (due, apparently, to being more "anxious"). 

And you've been looking at the Dow this whole time.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.