You May Not be as Clever as you Think When Naming Your Childhas prepared some interesting graphs that have practical applications that we present below.
One of the best illustrations of this use of animation in presenting statistics is these animations of baby boy names through the years. The government collects statistics on this topic and has since the 1800s. That amounts to a lot of data. Piles of data. Rooms-full of dusty sheets.
It is possible to do weird things with the data. Besides the obvious annual rankings of most popular names that we sometimes see, scientists also note trends in naming that may not be so obvious.
It can be difficult to work with names because often baby names are slightly different variants of each other, though essentially the same. For example, while "Ashley" and "Ashleigh" look different, for all intents and purposes they sound the same, abbreviate the same, have the same nicknames and the difference in spelling will only matter when people are put in alphabetical order for gym class or something.
Getting deeper into the data, though, presents some interesting trends that leap out at you and that you would not expect. One of these is the growth in the letter "n" as the last letter in a boy's first name.
By itself, this means nothing. Who cares how many baby names end in any particular letter? It's a statistical fluke - right?
Well, maybe not. It opens the door to something that is going on that you would have no other way of noticing.
|This is the long-term database from 1880-onward.|
A theory on why "n" suddenly acts like a period at the end of a sentence for boys' names suggests that herd behavior is alive and well. Sure, you won't name your boy "John," that's, like, so 20th Century. Instead, why not name him "Jayden" or even (if you're wild and crazy) "Jayd8n"? That's original and it just flows off the tongue, right?
|Source: Social Security Administration|
However, to make names "distinctive," more and more parents are coming up with slight variations on the same-sounding names - the "Ashley/Ashleigh" phenomenon. They're different - but they're really not.
Jayden is insanely popular now, but it is simply leading the pack. So, along with Jayden, there are uncounted variations that sound exactly the same: Jaiden, Jadon, and so on.
Which is not to even mention names that rhyme with the omnipresent "Jayden," such as "Aiden" (No. 10 on the list, wow, what a coincidence), "Hayden" and "Kayden" and so on. The common factor is that they all end in 'n.'
|Most popular baby names of the 1970s - Jennifer more than DOUBLED the no. 2 choices!|
|The 1920s were the decade of Mary.|
|This graph dramatizes the change by focusing on the years 1963-2012.|
For 2013, the most popular baby names:The SSA's top names for boys are:
The top names for girls are:
Perhaps something to think about when you decide that you have come up with that special name for your child. It may not be so unique after all. It's scary to think that we operate by herd instinct with such an important decision - but that's probably the very reason why we do.