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It’s a bull market for baby teeth, so spare a thought for the Tooth Fairy

One of the earliest references to the modern Tooth Fairy – that enigmatic trader of cold, hard cash for defunct deciduous teeth – is found in a 1908 ‘Household Hints’ item in the Chicago Daily Tribune:

If he takes his little tooth and puts it under the pillow when he goes to bed, the Tooth Fairy will come in the night and take it away, and in its place will leave some little gift. It is a nice plan for mothers to visit the 5-cent counter and lay in a supply of articles to be used on such occasions.

Since then, the going rate for a tooth has risen considerably, especially over the past two decades, during which the average sum paid out by the Tooth Fairy has ballooned to more than $4 – a rate that far outpaces US inflation over the same period. So what explains the increase? This short video from NPR’s Planet Money podcast pulls an unexpected amount of quirky humour from the peculiar puzzle, dissecting what the rising cost of doing tooth business says, not just about markets, but human values as well.

Producers: Bronson Arcuri, Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

Website: Planet Money

10 May 2019

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