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The Matthew Effect

>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Matthew effect in sociology is the phenomenon where "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer".

It takes its name from a line in the biblical Gospel of Matthew:
"For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." — Matthew 25:29

This was illustrated in the first chapter of "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

Being a year end baby, I had felt first hand the effects of the disadvantages faced for being born late in the year. I had shared my ideas with others only to be brushed off.

Malcolm Gladwell shared that certain selection process has resulted in an unfair bias towards the time one was born. Most talent is scouted at a certain young age to be groomed and those being born earlier, has the advantage of being more developed physically for sports or more mentally developed for music and ultimately, they have more time to practice. Those born in the later part of the year has nearly zero chance of ever being selected.

Similar to Singapore education system, children are streamed into EM1, EM2, EM3 previously at age 10. I am very sure that if we were to separate it to birth month, there will be proportionally more Jan, Feb, Mar babies in EM1 and more Oct, Nov, Dec babies in EM3. Is such a system fair?

Well, I am just glad that finally someone is agreeing with my sentiments since I was in Primary school!

So, chances of people being successful is proportionate to the time of the year he was born.


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