Monday, February 2, 2009

The Case for Popular Baby Names

I thought this may be of interest to our friends who are expecting children in the near future as they contemplate possible baby names...

A study published in next month's Social Science Quarterly entitled "First Names and Crime: Does Unpopularity Spell Trouble?" (Kalist and Lee 2009, 90(1): 39-49), written by two economists at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, finds a positive correlation between having an unpopular first name likelihood of juvenile delinquency. Apparently, giving your kid a "unique" name may eventually end up sending them to the clink. The statistical effects? "A 10 percent increase in the popularity of a name is associated with a 3.7 percent decrease in the number of juvenile delinquents who have that name."

The "unpopular" names in their dataset included: Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Kareem, Malcolm, Preston, Garland, and Tyrell.

Of course, the authors do not go so far as to suggest that there is a causal relationship (i.e. giving the child the unpopular name causes them to seek a life of crime), but they suggest (and show evidence) that unpopular names are more likely to be found in "households with less parental supervision" and also with "a lack of parental resources (e.g., income, wealth, childcare, and healthcare)."

The authors also suggest that unpopular names for children may increase the likelihood of "negative peer effects", i.e. kids getting beat up in the playground for having a dorky name which leads to more insecurity and emotional instability which leads to a greater disposition for criminal activity later on.

The bottom line? Maybe think twice about "unique" names and stick with something popular. Scientific research says so.

4 comments:

mamadoula said...

I'll have to show that to Tyrell... looks like he bucked the trend. Although an 8 year graduate program is ALMOST like being in prison.

jhjonze said...

Well that sucks, all our names are "unique." Guess we should start saving bail money now...

Jenny said...

Love it. I also like the implication that parents who name their kids stupid things are a little dumb themselves. Perhaps the degeneration of names as of late is a mere reflection of the degeneration of society. Hah.

Rachel Kerr said...

DANG IT! So I can't name my kids Shaniqua? I was really liking that one...
You should try to tell Derek this info...maybe he would stop making names up like, Braelynn, Bria or Iara.