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A note on popularity (long and including numbers!)

Forum: Baby Names


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May 9th, 2011, 06:55 AM
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I know that a lot of parents don't want to use names in the top 100 because we're all afraid of the "Jennifer and Jessica" name fiasco of the 70s and 80s. No one wants their kid to be one of 5 or 6 kids with the same name in their class - it's just a pain for everyone.

However, with the recent release of the 2010 top 1000, I've put some figures together to show that ruling out the top 100 names may not be necessary after all! =)

These are the numbers of total female births that had a top 5 name in each year given.
1975 - 162,237
1985 - 201,890
1995 - 121,897
2010 - 92,547
In the 1980s, when a great many of us were probably born, the top 5 names were REALLY the top 5 names. They were names you saw everywhere. How many of us don't know at least 2 people named Jessica, Ashley, Jennifer, Amanda, and Sarah? But in 2010, the number is less than half what it was in 1985. Only 92,547 babies in the whole country were named Isabella, Sophia, Emma, Olivia, or Ava. That's a (very rough) average of:
454 Isabellas born per state,
409 Sophias
343 Emmas
337 Olivias
306 Avas.

I could go state by state and tell you exactly how many in all 50 states, because each state actually has it's own top 5, but I think the message is clear enough this way. The odds that your Ava will encounter one of the other 305 Avas in the entire state? It's very unlikely that she will even have one other Ava in her class at school, much less a repeat of Jennifer S. Jennifer C, and Jennifer H.

I could also get more detailed and figure out the number of Avas and Olivia's in a given age group, instead of just year by year, but... well, I have three kids and don't have THAT much time on my hands.

Another set of figures - the percentage of total female births given a top 5 name:
2010 - 4.7672%
1995 - 6.3481%
1985 - 10.9437%
1975 - 10.3981%, with 3.7286 = Jennifer

I picked girls at random for the above lists, because I had to pick one or the other. But if you're wondering about boys, here's the percentage of births handed the number one boy name of the year given:
1975 - Michael - 4.2184
1985 - Michael - 3.3743
1995 - Michael - 2.0596
2010 - Jacob - 1.0756
As you can see, the trend to name every boy the same thing has also lessened severely. I know that we all seem to know 13 guys named Michael, but the Jacobs born last year probably won't have the same issue. It's statistically improbable, anyways.

Now, I'm not trying to say that the idea of choosing an unpopular name is invalid or in any way a negative thing. I've just seen a lot of people talk about how much they adore the name Emma, and it's really their favorite name, but it's just too popular and they don't want their kid to be one of 6 Emmas. So I'm just saying that if you LOVE a top 100 name, or a top 20 name, or a top 5 name, you should just go ahead and use it!
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May 9th, 2011, 07:09 AM
ashj_1218's Avatar Hiya!
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 11,971
I am lurking...but this was awesome research Thanks!!!

We named our son Liam before knowing how popular it would become (well, we picked it in March 2009 when it was number 75). And I have to admit, the rise in popularity played into our choices for our second child...not wanting something that seemed likely to vault to the top 10 anytime soon. But it is reassuring that even though Liam has become number 10, he will not likely have four Liam's in his classes (as I remember from my Ashlee days in middle school!) I certainly don't think it has a major effect on one's life. Even though there are just as many Ashleys out there now...I rarely encounter any others now that I am out of school. I am not emotionally scarred from having a "Top 5" take in the 80s. But I do understand not wanting to have my child go by "Liam P" in school

Thanks again for these stats!
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May 9th, 2011, 09:56 AM
LadyGamer's Avatar Objection!!!
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 12,480
Thanks Kes. I do think there is a negative association with popularity, so I appreciate you sharing this.

Thank you, Jaidynsmum, for the amazing siggy

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May 9th, 2011, 03:06 PM
♥womanintheshoe♥'s Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Arizona
Posts: 4,036
but I think the message is clear enough this way. The odds that your Ava will encounter one of the other 305 Avas in the entire state? It's very unlikely that she will even have one other Ava in her class at school, much less a repeat of Jennifer S. Jennifer C, and Jennifer H.
The stats make sense but I have to admit are hard to believe when we went to the park and out of the 9 boys there, 4 had names that were "ayden" based, two were Liams, one Jacob, one Caleb and one Ethan. Or when the kids come in for Awana and on the roster are 2 Olivia's, 3 Sophia's, numerous Kaylee/Kylees, Madisons, etc. (no Avas yet, oddly enough). I could go to the mall and call out "Isabelle/Isabella/Bella/Belle!" and half the little girls the playplace would turn their heads (no joke, it's ridiculous). So maybe I live in a place where the top 5 really are the top 5?

I don't care if people give their dc a common name; it makes it easier for me to remember if I have their dc in a class.
One-time "I'm NEVER having kids!" woman to mama of 11. Love living the beautiful life I thought I never wanted. ♥

Also missing 11 precious little ones here with us but for a moment.

VERY cautiously expecting after two losses early 2013. Hoping and praying my Valentine's Day due date baby sticks this time.
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May 9th, 2011, 05:13 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: NY
Posts: 6,083
That is great info...thanks! I keep waring with myself over popularity. I don't want it to cross a name off our list if we truly love the name...but I don't want the next baby to be one of many.

I work in two elementary schools...we have a ton of: Isabella, Emma, Emily, Madison, Ethan, Logan, Jacob, the "Aidan" names....
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May 9th, 2011, 06:00 PM
Posts: n/a
I think if they combined all the different spellings of the name "Aidan" and gave the merger it's own number, it would rank MUCH higher than it currently does. I wouldn't be surprised if it came up first or second. And that's not with all the derritives - Brayden, Caden, Haden.. Names with a lot of alternate spellings are obviously going to be heard more.

Like we could probably combine the numbers for Isabella, Bella, Ella, Isobel, and Isabelle (and probably a few less popular spellings in there), and it would seem a lot more popular than strictly "Isabella" really is. That's definitely a factor to consider as well.
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May 9th, 2011, 06:42 PM
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In fact, I've done the math!

Aidens - 24,343
Jaydens - 25,862
Braydens - 13,203
Haydens - 4,361
Kadens - 17,139
Zaydens - 1316
Raidens - 590
Total: 86,814

Girl Jaydens - 1902
Girl Haydens - 1880

With these numbers, the SSA list should technically say:
1) Jayden
2) Aiden
3) Jacob/Jakob
4) Ethan
5) Michael/Micheal/Mike
6) Kaden
7) William

And officially, the Aiden names are more popular than Jacob, Ethan, Michael, and William combined.

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May 9th, 2011, 09:23 PM
MommaOnCloud9's Avatar Mommy of 3!
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 7,601
Kes, are you an accountant or math teacher?

But seriously, you're preaching to the choir here! That's what I've been saying for quite some time. It's just not statistically likely that my Isabella will have another Isabella in her kindergarten class, let alone 4+ others. At 4 years of age, Isabella finally met ONE other Isabella last summer and they are friends. These are the only TWO Isabellas Dh and I have ever known (and yes, that includes all the spellings, Bellas, and Isabelles too). Our Isabella is the only one most of our family and friends know. I don't see it as an ultra-popular name. And, even if it were, it only means a lot of people think my daughter has a beautiful name - enough to be using it so much with new babies.
Thank-you GraysMama for my beautiful siggy!
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May 10th, 2011, 02:19 AM
Gaby&Emmy'sMama's Avatar aka NZ-Emma
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Christchurch, NZ
Posts: 56,618
I've never really been one that's worried about the popularity of a name - infact, one of my top contenders for Emersyn's name, was Isabella, which was #1 or #2 in 2010... eventually I went with Emersyn - which was #917

I have always felt that the most important thing is how you feel about a name - whether it's the #1 name on 'the list', or the #20,000th on the list

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May 10th, 2011, 09:10 AM
Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,142
Thanks for the great article!
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May 10th, 2011, 09:40 AM
girlggc's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,053
That's a lot of numbers! What a great post!

Thank you to pattyandthemoos for the beautiful siggie!

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May 10th, 2011, 10:10 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 11,883
Our town has a lot of off the wall names. I was actually quite surprised to see that the only repeat name in my oldest dd's class is Matthew. DD2 doesn't have any repeats. I do happen to know of one other Oliver. He was born 2 wks after my Oliver and he's my accountants son, which is funny. As for Wyatt, we have a lot of them here. I hadn't heard the name used here until I named my son Wyatt. There was a Wyatt born the day before mine and the day after mine. And since then, it seems to be everywhere.

I think I tend more to be swayed by the association of the name. Like Twilight. That's why I'm not going with Jasper. It's too bad the books had to ruin some great names! lol.

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