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The Tooth Fairy Index


Apparently it is getting more profitable to loose baby teeth. An article on my local news indicates that the payout on baby teeth is averaging $3.70 per tooth (up 23 percent from last year) with some children (6 percent) getting $20 per tooth and others (2 percent) $50 per tooth. Now let me address the first question that has no doubt sprung into your mind… how do they know this? I assume that is the first question you are asking because it certainly was mine. Is some poor intern calling people at dinner time to ask them how much the going rate for a baby tooth is? But let’s ignore that question for a minute, while we examine the rationality of this price. An average kid has 20 baby teeth as shown below.


So that means, on average, a kid is making $74 profit on their baby teeth – not shabby. Now I realize I’m going to sound old and craggily here, but what does a young child need with that sort of money? Are they starting their college fund? Perhaps an early investment in their Roth IRA? I realize that things cost more now than they did when I was a kid, but inflation doesn’t match up with this payout increase. According to an inflation calculator by the US Department of Labor, my 50 cent per tooth take in the mid-80s is now equivalent to $1.03, making for a whomping 259 percent increase since my childhood (after an adjustment for inflation).

The Economist has long used “The Big Mac Index” – a comparison of the price of a McDonalds Big Mac worldwide from year to year – to compare currencies and make judgements about respective economies. Based on the Tooth Fairy Index, the US economy is doing quite well, or is this more than a measure of economic strength? Is this actually measuring parents’ oneupmanship instead? Are we looking to buy these teeth at a better rate than those Joneses we’ve been hearing so much about? I witness constant competition between parents – who’s kid eats more organic food, how many extra curricular activities the kid is involved in, what brand of clothes does the kid wear?

Why are we doing this to each other? Personally, I blame sites like Pinterest and Facebook which allow us 24 hour access to other people’s “highlight reels”. We cannot keep comparing our daily lives to these special crafts, activities, and vacations of others! It’s not good for us and it is certainly not good for the kid who’s parent feels like they are failing. So put down that smartphone and pick up your sanity… of course, after you read my blog! 😉

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