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Most Popular Names Predictions?

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Today’s Questions of the Week focus on the upcoming Social Security lists of 2010′s most popular names.

The announcements of the Social Security Administration’s popularity lists for 2010 are almost upon us.  So, time to place your bets, ladies and gentlemen, on what will be revealed.

What do you think will be the three top names for girls and boys?  Will Isabella and Jacob be overthrown?

Which names will make the biggest leaps—one girl, one boy?

Which name/names will drop out of the Top 10?

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Boys’ Names Ins and Outs

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Yesterday we took a look at the girls’ names moving in and out of fashion and now we turn our attention to their brothers.

And here we find a somewhat different picture.

Overall, it confirms the fact that there is much greater consistency on the boys’ side of the fence, with a huge proportion of the names already established in the Top 100 list of 1880, and very few new ones entering in the succeeding years: only one or two per decade, with a large number of them having Irish roots.

Names that we might think of as fairly recent favorites were already on the list in the 1880s: Cameron, Carson, Carter, Chase, Cole and Cooper, Hunter and Haydn, for example. (Further evidence of the 100-year rule.)

So, again, here they are, arranged by decade, and then giving the particular years that they were among the Top 100.

1880s

  • Angel: 1888, 1891, 1899, 1907-1910, 1912-1914, 1916-2009
  • Blake: 1883, 1886, 1892-1894, 1897, 1903, 1906, 1911, 1920-21, 1933, 1942-1943, 1945-2009
  • Bryan: 1883, 1886, 1890, 1892, 1894-2009
  • Caleb: 1880-1907, 1909-1911, 1914-1915, 1917-1918, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1964, 1966, 1968-1009
  • Cameron: 1882-1885m 1888, 1895-1896, 1900, 1911-1912, 1916, 1920-1924, 1926, 1930-1931, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1941-2009
  • Carson: 1880-1882, 1884-1892, 1894-1896, 1898-2009
  • Carter: 1881, 1883-1977, 1980-2009
  • Chase: 1885, 1972-2009
  • Cole: 1886, 1912, 1951, 1954-1965, 1967-2009
  • Cooper: 1882, 1885-1887, 1889, 1982, 1984-2009
  • Diego: 1887, 1958, 1963-2009
  • Dominic: 1885, 1887, 1890-1892, 1894-2009
  • Ethan: 1882, 1884, 1886-1887, 1891, 1893, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1952, 1954, 1956-2009
  • Hayden: 1880, 1885, 1888-1892, 1895-1901, 1903-1930, 1922-1936, 1941-1944, 1947, 1986-2009
  • Hunter: 1880-1886, 1888-1902, 1904-1920, 1922-1924, 1926-1929, 1931-1932, 1934-1935, 1945-1950, 1954, 1956-2009
  • Isaiah: 1880-1968, 1971-2009
  • Jason: 1880-1898, 1900-2009
  • Jesus: 1880-1890, 1892-2009
  • Jordan: 1880-1889, 1891-1901, 1903-1910, 1912-1915, 1917, 1919-2009
  • Josiah: 1880-1896, 1898-1899, 1903-1904, 1906-1907, 1912, 1914, 1916, 1975-2009
  • Justin: 1880-1881, 1884-1886, 1888-1894, 1896-2009

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 Since the Social Security site showing the rankings of baby names is the bible for so many nameberries, we thought we’d turn to webmaster Jeff Kunkel to give us some insight into how it developed–and his instrumental part in it.

Soon after Social Security joined the internet, I became webmaster for my office, the Office of the Chief Actuary.  A high priority in those days was providing the public with information on cost-of-living increases and other things that affected Social Security beneficiaries.  The lists of baby names begun by Michael Shackleford, who was then a co-worker, were decidedly a low priority.

However, the popularity of the baby name web pages soon became apparent.  Dissatisfied with simply presenting the baby names as lists of the top 1000 names by sex for each year of birth, I wrote an interactive computer program that would allow people to select the year of birth, select the number of names to display, and select whether to display the number of occurrences of each name.  In essence, the program allowed people to generate their own customized lists.

My desire to see how the popularity of my daughter’s name changed over time, coupled with the success of that list-generating program, inspired me to write another program that would provide a way to see time trends in the baby name data.  The resulting new program proved to be even more popular than the list-generating program.

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It’s just a little over a week  till the new Most Popular Names list is announced, for 2009.  How do you think things are going to change?  Will Emma and/or Jacob be toppled from their top spots? What names will rise and which will fall?

Here, as refresher, is the Top Ten for 2008:

girls

1. Emma (unseating Emily for the first time)
2. Isabella
3. Emily
4. Madison
5. Ava
6. Olivia
7. Sophia
8. Abigail
9. Elizabeth
10. Chloe (first appearance in Top 10)

boys

1. Jacob
2. Michael
3. Ethan
4. Joshua
5. Daniel
6. Alexander
7. Anthony
8. William
9. Christopher
10. Matthew

So what do you think? Is it Jacob‘s turn to fall from the top? Any predictions on fastest risers inspired by celebrities or pop culture? What’s YOUR vision of the Top 10?

First person to guess the new Top 10 gets a very public gold star on nameberry!

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A lot of parents spend hours, days, weeks, months gazing at the Social Security list of most popular names in search of the ideal choice for their baby.  What they want is a name that’s well established but not too popular, neither too recently trendy nor shooting toward the top of the list.

And there’s one dad who thinks he’s found the perfect formula for teasing out the perfect name from the mountain of statistics on the Social Security site.  It’s simple, he says.  All you have to do is write down all the names that made the Top 100 in every year from 1880 through 1930.  Then you cross off all the names on that list that made the Top 300 in the past ten years.  Et voila, you have a list of wonderful names from which to choose.

Um, yeah.  If you have an advanced degree in mathematics from MIT.  And if you think Bertha is a wonderful name.

Actually, I only had the math acumen (not to mention the time and the patience) to check the lists for three years: 1880, 1900, and 1930.  And on the Top 100 lists from those years I indeed found a lot of great names not on the Top 300 in any recent years.

For girls, you might choose a serious name such as Helen or Clara, Cora or Flora (or Dora), Pearl or Maude.  Or you might pick a madcap, fun-loving name such as Minnie or Mamie, Mabel or Lula.  Yes, Lula!

But then there’s Beulah.  Along with a lot of other not-so-beautiful names that were the bee’s knees on those lists.  Bertha, for instance, and GertrudeEthel and EdnaGladys, Shirley, and Phyllis.

On the boys’ side, there are great names to be found on the old lists.  There’s Walter, for example, and LouisArthur, and AlbertRufus, Roy, and Ralph.

And then there’s Herbert.  And Herman.  And Elmer, Dewey, and LesterDon‘t do this to your son.

An intriguing way to look for a great name?  Maybe.  But simple and foolproof, no way.

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