Phenomenon June 2005

Baby Names

More

Not all names are created equal. In the book Freakonomics the contrarian economist Steven Levitt and his co-author, Stephen J. Dubner, contend that a baby's name indicates more than just current cultural whims: it is a testament to the socio-economic and educational background of the parents. Working from a study of more than 16 million babies born in California since 1961, the researchers concluded that some names are most common among rich people and some among poor, some in families with more schooling and some in families with less. Here is a sampling of their findings.

INCOME. The name that parents give their child may be a reflection of wealth and cultural sophistication. Here are the leading names for white babies according to income.

Girls/High
1. Alexandra
2. Lauren
3. Katherine
4. Madison
5. Rachel
Girls/Low
1. Amber
2. Heather
3. Kayla
4. Stephanie
5. Alyssa
Boys/High
1. Benjamin
2. Samuel
3. Jonathan
4. Alexander
5. Andrew
Boys/Low
1. Cody
2. Brandon
3. Anthony
4. Justin
5. Robert

EDUCATION. A baby's name often reflects how much education his or her mother received. Here are the white babies' names associated with the highest and lowest levels of education in their mothers (average years of education in parentheses).

Girls/High
1. Lucienne (16.60)
2. Marie-Claire (16.50)
3. Glynnis (16.40)
4. Adair (16.36)
5. Meira (16.27)
Girls/Low
1. Angel (11.38)
2. Heaven (11.46)
3. Misty (11.61)
4. Destiny (11.66)
5. Brenda (11.71)
Boys/High
1. Dov (16.50)
2. Akiva (16.42)
3. Sander (16.29)
4. Yannick (16.20)
5. Sacha (16.18)
Boys/Low
1. Ricky (11.55)
2. Joey (11.65)
3. Jessie (11.66)
4. Jimmy (11.66)
5. Billy (11.69)
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In