Friday the 13th: The Empirics of Bad Luck
Tuesday, 17 February, 2015

On Friday, February 13th, ISET hosted Dr. Jan Fidrmuc from Brunel University, who presented a paper he co-authored with Juan De Dios Tena titled “Friday the 13th: The Empirics of Bad Luck”.

The speaker began his presentation by providing examples of superstitious beliefs in different countries and pointed out superstitions related to the numbers 13 and Friday the 13th—The authors of the paper wanted to check empirically how can be bad luck associated with superstitious beliefs. To do so, the authors compared people born on the 13th day of a month or on Black Fridays. Due to superstitious beliefs, people are often extra careful and empirically it is not possible to check the effect of an event that is believed to be unlucky.

For example, there are fewer car accidents on Black Fridays because people are more cautious or even do not go out at all, but in the case of a birthdate one cannot be extra cautious throughout his whole life, which is why the authors used birth dates for their research.

The authors used the UK Labor Force survey to investigate whether there is an empirical basis for superstitious beliefs.  The data consists of more than a million observations, which allowed the authors to use many different specifications. They found little evidence that people born on the 13th or those born on Friday the 13th are significantly less likely to be employed, earn lower wages, or are more likely to remain unmarried as compared to people born on other days.

The presentation was concluded with a question and answer session. ISET would like to thank Dr. Jan Fidrmuc for his interesting and entertaining seminar and presentation.

Click here to download the presentation

Click here to download the paper