New Study Explains Baby Name Trends as Products of Social Networks

Shaquille’s popularity as a baby peaked in 1993 for an obvious reason: It was O’Neal’s rising year in the NBA. However, this kind of sudden rise in baby name popularity is the exception rather than the rule. The reasons behind the ebb and flow of baby names that parents choose each year are usually a mystery, a mystery that has caught the attention of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Why do names fall in and out of fashion? What explains the emergence of “Noah” and “Liam” and the fall of the others? Researchers set out to study the unexplained mysteries of what makes a baby’s name.

Specifically, the researchers wanted to understand changing baby name trends. Using data from the Social Security Administration, which has tracked the most popular baby names since at least 1880, they developed a mathematical model that captures the conflicting desires parents have for choosing a name that stands out both. And Fits fits.

They found that if these two factors were the only ones, the same name would be the most popular every year. Since this is not the case, there must be a destabilizing factor.

The researchers considered social networks, such as neighbors, colleagues, and clubs, as a potential factor driving the momentum in baby names. The research came to this hypothesis, finding that different types of networks produced similar anti-equilibrium effects.

Case in point: the recent opposite popularity trends of girls named Emma and Emily. Between 1996 and 2007, more parents called their daughters Emily more than any other name. In 2008 Emma gave it up, and the Austinian title has remained in the top three every year since then while Emily has slipped, dropping to 18th place in 2020.

Researchers believe that Emily has become less popular because she has become so ubiquitous. The name Emma was similar, but socially acceptable, except that it nonetheless made it more likely that their child would not have to append their last name to their name once they reached kindergarten. There is no Emma B. , Woody, and K. Here – only one Emma.

Of course, now that Emma has dominated for the past two decades, including six years as the most popular female name in the US, she’s a prime candidate for a similar drop in popularity as more parents rediscover Emily or switch to another name entirely.

For parents with a child on the way, this model indicates several different paths to naming children: an acceptable name that is popular and likely to fall, an acceptable name that is less common and likely to rise, or an unacceptable name (in American society this might mean a name from Another culture, like a TV show game of Thrones, or one made simply) stands out, with the positive and negative effects of non-conformance.

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