Unlucky Friday the 13th? Myth busted!

Today is Friday May 13th '“ but Brunel University London economist Dr Jan Fidrmuc says science can prove definitively that you can put away the four leaf clover.

Along with Dr JD Tena of Liverpool University, Dr Fidrmuc has published an academic paper which explodes the enduring myth that Friday the 13th is a particularly unlucky day.

He said: “Commonly the bad luck is attributed to Jesus being crucified on a Friday and there being 13 at the Last Supper, one of whom went on to betray him.

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“But until now no one has come up with a scientifically robust way of establishing whether or not there is any objective evidence either way.

“Selecting the right kind of data is crucial. It’s no good using surveys. People are much more likely to remember something bad happening on an “unlucky” day.

“Similarly, considering outcomes of actions, such as buying a house or to getting married, is fraught with difficulty, as superstitious people are unlikely to make such important decisions on an unlucky day. For example, when comparing those who got married on a Friday the 13th with the rest, the two groups are likely to be very different.

“And we know superstition about 13 measurably affects behaviour. In the UK the number of marriages fell sharply in 2013 compared with 2012 with the Office of National Statistics suggesting fears of bad luck might be to blame.”

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The two academics searched the records of four million individuals held by the UK Labour Force Survey.

The survey contains (among many other details) information about jobs, wages, marital status and crucially for this research, date of birth.

They decided to look at what the Friday the 13th effect might be. Would Friday-the-13th-ers be more or less likely to be employed, have higher or lower wages or be more or less likely to be single?

In the end they had a lot of data about the success in life of people born on the 13th, Friday the 13th as well as on the 12th and 14th.

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The results? Being born on the 13th or even Friday the 13th did not show any dramatically worse outcomes that being born on the 12th or 14th, neither of which is regarded as either being particularly lucky or unlucky.

The authors conclude in their paper: “Overall, results suggest that those born on the 13th or on a Friday the 13th need not lose much sleep over the inauspicious circumstances of their birth.”

Dr Fidrmuc added: “Triskaidekaphobia, the scientific name for the phobia of the number 13, has real world financial consequences which, as economists, concern us.

“Everywhere we looked there were examples. So, by exploding the myth, we hope to have added our own little fiscal stimulus to between one and three Fridays a year.”

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