New York City Names: Sophia and Jayden top the new list
The New York City Health Department released its list of most popular names of 2008 today–at last–with some pretty interesting results. (It reminded me of the old Jennifer & Jason days–before the Social Security Administration was compiling a national list, when Pam and I used to have to contact –and sometimes plead with–the Health Departments of all fifty states for their figures and laboriously construct our own master list–and I recall that New York State and City were always the last to straggle in.)
For a long time–and especially considering the City’s hip reputation–New York‘s list was surprisingly conservative, with Michael, Ashley and Emily lounging in the top spots year after year. That changed somewhat in 2007, when Isabella and Sophia tied for Number One. This year, the more modern Jayden joined Sophia at the head of the list, bringing New York finally and fully into the 21st century.
Here are the Top Ten names for both genders:
But what is most intriguing about NYC is that it’s one of the few localities to break down its findings into separate ethnic lists for Hispanics, Blacks, Whites, and Asian & Pacific Islanders, revealing their extremely wide disparities. For example, the only group to have the overall No. 1 girls’ name, Sophia, at the top is the Asian; the other three each had different girls’ names–Ashley, Hispanic; Madison, Black; and Olivia, White. A few somewhat unusal choices included Melanie and Genesis on the Hispanic list; Nevaeh, Destiny and Imani on the Black; Esther (#2!), Chaya and Miriam on the White; and Tiffany, Fiona, Angela, and Vivian on the Asian.
The Top 5 for each group are:
When it comes to the boys, a more conservative picture emerges. Four of the top names were repeats of last years. Jayden was #1 for Hispanic and Black boys, Daniel for Caucasian and Ryan the top choice for Asian parents, who have long had a penchant for Irish names. There weren’t very many unexpected selections here, except possibly for Angel (Hispanic), Elijah, Jeremiah and Isaiah (Black), and Eric, Ivan and Vincent (Asian).
The top choices for each boy group were:
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Charlotte Vera Said
on December 3rd, 2009 at 2:24 am
Interesting breakdown, although I’m not entirely certain I understand how it works: does the Asian include all of Asia (e.g. India, Sri Lanka, etc.) or just those who claim Japanese, Chinese, Korean heritage, etc.?
Also, I personally wouldn’t call Vincent and Ivan surprising choices for Asians to bestow on their little tikes. Choosing a name with a syllable that sounds like “win” is considered lucky/good fortune.
Charlotte Vera Said
on December 3rd, 2009 at 2:32 am
(Ok, I looked it up and “Asian” does mean all of Asia.)
NEW YORK CITY NAMES: Sophia and Jayden top the new list | Ondelet Said
on December 3rd, 2009 at 10:32 am
[…] See the article here: NEW YORK CITY NAMES: Sophia and Jayden top the new list […]
on December 3rd, 2009 at 10:44 am
You really see the Jewish influence in the list for whites, particularly for the girls. Esther, Chaya and Miriam are names I have not seen on popularity lists anywhere else in the country. I’m guessing that a large number of the Sarahs, Rachels and Leahs also have some Jewish background, though they’re more common across ethnic groups and Olivia and Emma and Ava are wildly popular everywhere. The names on the boys’ list are a little more common for all ethnic groups.
The names for the other ethnicities are interesting. What always strikes me is that some of the names, like Kevin, Eric, Tiffany and Kimberly, were popular for other groups a generation earlier. I haven’t encountered many people with those names under 25 in this part of the country. Nevaeh is also a name that is quite popular in New Mexico, which has a large American Indian and Hispanic population, so I’d expect it to be fairly high on the Hispanic list as well, though not in the top 10.
on December 3rd, 2009 at 10:50 am
Here is a list of the top 10 names for each state in 2008 for comparison purposes:
And the New York City Health Department’s press release:
on December 3rd, 2009 at 2:08 pm
To Andrea: I noticed the Jewish influence for white girls as well.
I have a theory about the popularity of names from the previous generation among other ethnicities (that feels awkwardly worded, but I can’t think of a better way to put it). I think that first-generation American parents want to give their kids names that fit in well with mainstream America. So they choose the very American names that they encounter frequently in everyday life- which tend to be the names popular among their own generation of American-born.
on December 3rd, 2009 at 5:05 pm
SilentOne, that’s probably as good an explanation as any or maybe they’re naming kids after stars with those names. I think there’s a pretty well known singer named Fiona something in Hong Kong that might account for Fiona being popular with Asians.
If anyone gets a chance they should look at the complete list for the ethnicities. The Jewish names are really great — Menachem, Yehudis, Blima, Goldy, Faigy, Tzipporah, Channa, etc. I think New York City has a population that’s about 12 percent Jewish and a large number of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn that probably accounts for the Yiddish names on the list. I also noticed some of the more modern names that are popular in Israel on this list — Noa, Shira, Dov — and wondered if they might be more representative of reform Jews. It’d be fascinating to see a further breakdown of what groups the parents represent and what names are popular with them. I also think the Asian list must lump together many different groups from Asia and it would be interesting to see popular names according to the countries the parents are originally from. Ditto with the black listing. Fatoumata and Aminata are probably names from west African immigrant families. Maybe some of the 12 black Esthers have Ethiopian family backgrounds since I think Esther is well-used by Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. You could write several papers based on researching those names and the backgrounds.
on December 3rd, 2009 at 8:55 pm
Is it any coincidence that Sophia is Nameberry’s pick of the day?
Very interesting about the ethnic names. I’m Jewish and I grew up in a largely white/Jewish area where lovely names like Shira, Shoshana, and Aliza were relatively popular.
Pamela Redmond Satran Said
on December 3rd, 2009 at 10:51 pm
Yes, it is a coincidence about Sophia! But a nice one, I think.
on December 4th, 2009 at 12:34 pm
The SSA website has lists by state, too, and are in for every year just like the regular lists. It is pretty interesting, because you can see regional and ethnic differnces in the lists.
on March 13th, 2010 at 2:04 pm
Frankly I’m sort of surprised that Genesis isn’t number one on the Hispanic list. I’m Hispanic and Genesis is literally our most common name. No more Maria’s… each Hispanic fam has at least one Genesis these days.
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.