Kids Getting Less from the Tooth Fairy for the Second Year in a Row

Kids Getting Less from the Tooth Fairy for the Second Year in a Row
Image: Pixabay
August 18, 2015

For the second year in a row, children can expect less under their pillow when they lose a tooth.

Visa's annual Tooth Fairy survey found that American children are receiving an average of $3.19 per lost tooth this year, a decrease of 24 cents from last year. This year a child can make about $64 for a full set of baby teeth, down from $74 two years ago.

Despite the high price tag, the survey of more than 4,000 parents found that the most popular amount – at 32 percent -- was a crisp $1 bill. About 20 percent of parents reported that the Tooth Fairy left a $5 bill and 5 percent of parents reported a very generous Tooth Fairy leaving $20 or more.

The amount children received also varied amount geographic areas. A kid in the Northeast could receive an average of $3.56 per tooth whereas a child in the South averages about $3.07, the least of the four regions.

This is the second year in a row that dads have played a more indulgent Tooth Fairy than mom, with dads leaving nearly 30 percent more. Not surprisingly, as income increased, so did the amount left by the Tooth Fairy.

Where Did the Tooth Fairy Come From?

Many cultures have rituals relating to the disposal of children's teeth, but the Tooth Fairy is distinctly American and relatively new, writes Michael Hingston in an article for Salon. Hingston writes that around the world, children leave their teeth out in hopes that a mouse will come and take it away, leaving money or some other gift. The ritual dates back to at least the 17th century.

Hingston continues,

The tooth fairy, then, is thought to be a uniquely American cross-pollination of two preexisting figures: the mouse that sneaks into a child's bedroom and performs the cash-for-teeth swap, and the general "good fairy," a traditionally European figure that slowly made its way over the Atlantic. It's no coincidence that at the same time the tooth fairy was starting to gain traction in the United States, Disney was also releasing animated films like "Pinocchio" and "Cinderella" — each of which features a benevolent, maternal fairy with the power to make wishes come true.

How Much Should My Tooth Fairy Leave?


For parents who are unsure how much to leave their child, Visa used survey data to create a calculator that provides a result based on demographic information like a parent's age, education level, income, and geographic location. For example, a married 35-year-old female with a college degree making between $40,000 and $50,000 per year, living in North Carolina would leave $1. A male of the same age, education and income level would leave $2.

"Visa created the Tooth Fairy apps and calculator so that anyone -- from the first time mother to the father of three -- can get an idea of what the Fairy is leaving under pillows in other households," Nat Sillin, Visa's director of global financial education, said in a statement. "It's a fun and helpful glimpse at next door, or thousands of miles away."

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