Tooth Fairy payouts are at an all-time high

November 13, 2017

Fortune smiles upon children when their first baby teeth start hanging by their last threads—heralding the arrival of the Tooth Fairy, who will take the precious pearly white incisor left under a child’s pillow and replace it with money. An unlikely but accurate economic indicator, Tooth Fairy payouts are soaring, posting record gains in 2016 and early 2017; according to Delta Dental, which conducts an annual poll on this phenomenon.

According to the Original Tooth Fairy Poll of 1,588 parents of children ages 6-12, cash payouts have jumped to an all-time high over the past year, up to an average of $4.66 compared to $3.91 in 2015.

That could spell even better things to come for the economy. The Original Tooth Fairy Poll has typically served as a good indicator of the economy’s overall direction, tracking with the movement of Standard & Poor’s 500 index (S&P 500) for 12 of the past 13 years. This year’s poll—taken earlier in 2017—found that Tooth Fairy payouts were nearly right on target, within a few percentage points, with a 19.18% increase in cash payouts amount as the S&P 500 saw an increase of 19.61% compared to the same time last year.

In 2016, the Tooth Fairy paid an estimated $290.6 million for lost teeth, up 13.5% from the prior year. Cash payouts for a child’s first lost tooth, typically higher than average, are also up nearly 1%, at $5.72.

According to the poll, the Tooth Fairy visits 85 % of the nation’s households with children; and in 89% of those homes, leaves money. But, 56% of parents say the Tooth Fairy can be a little forgetful, neglecting to pick up the tooth on the first night.

By region, Tooth Fairy payouts are highest in the West: $5.96 ($6.89 for the first tooth); followed by the Northeast at $5.08 ($6.31); the South at $4.57 ($4.88); and the Midwest at $4.04 ($5.70).

An even split of children save (48%) and spend (48%) their Tooth Fairy cash; however, 3% actually donate the money, and a savvy 1% even loan the cash out.

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