What's your name, little girl?

For the last few days, I've been reading Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. It's really a good book even if you have no interest in economics whatsoever and I do recommend it highly (review will be posted, I hope, sometime later today).

In the book, Levitt and Dubner tackle all kinds of topics that you might not normally consider to be related to the field of economics. For example, they equate schoolteachers to sumo wrestlers, the Ku Klux Klan to real estate agents, etc.

In the final chapter of the book, however, they talk about how a person's name may or may not affect their life. They ask the question of whether or not someone can expect to have better luck if they have one name as opposed to another. And they provide lists upon lists of first names and correlate them to income, class, education, etc.

Being that Katie and I do want to have children in the next few years, it was interesting to search through these lists and see how the potential names we have chosen are ranked. I wanted to duplicate a couple of the lists here for your enjoyment and pray that neither Levitt and Dubner nor their publishers come after me. I am giving adequate credit, right?

Bear in mind that these statistics were compiled based on names and income levels for children born in the state of California. And, before you call me a dumbass, I realize that my personal analysis of these lists is completely ridiculous. I'm just doing it for shits and giggles.

Miscfreakonomics The Twenty "Whitest" Girl Names:

  1. Molly
  2. Amy
  3. Claire
  4. Emily
  5. Katie
  6. Madeline
  7. Katelyn
  8. Emma
  9. Abigail
  10. Carly
  11. Jenna
  12. Heather
  13. Katherine
  14. Caitlin
  15. Kaitlin
  16. Holly
  17. Allison
  18. Kaitlyn
  19. Hannah
  20. Kathryn

The Twenty "Whitest" Boy Names:

  1. Jake
  2. Connor
  3. Tanner
  4. Wyatt
  5. Cody
  6. Dustin
  7. Luke
  8. Jack
  9. Scott
  10. Logan
  11. Cole
  12. Lucas
  13. Bradley
  14. Jacob
  15. Garrett
  16. Dylan
  17. Maxwell
  18. Hunter
  19. Brett
  20. Colin

Based on this, we have one boy's and one girl's name on the list. So, our kids will obviously be decidedly white. I guess. It should be a given considering Katie and I, but that little bit of reassurance goes a long way. Heh.

Most Common High-End White Girl Names:

  1. Alexandra
  2. Lauren
  3. Katherine
  4. Madison
  5. Rachel

Most Common Low-End White Girl Names:

  1. Amber
  2. Heather
  3. Kayla
  4. Stephanie
  5. Alyssa

Most Common High-End White Boy Names:

  1. Benjamin
  2. Samuel
  3. Jonathan
  4. Alexander
  5. Andrew

Most Common Low-End White Boy Names:

  1. Cody
  2. Brandon
  3. Anthony
  4. Justin
  5. Robert

Well, none of our names fall on any of these lists. Apparently, we are destined to be very middle of the road. That's not an entirely bad thing.

These final lists of names kinda weird me out a bit. Check them out...

The Twenty White Girl Names That
Best Signify High-Education Parents:

  1. Lucienne
  2. Marie-Claire
  3. Glynnis
  4. Adair
  5. Meira
  6. Beatrix
  7. Clementine
  8. Philippa
  9. Aviva
  10. Flannery
  11. Rotem
  12. Oona
  13. Atara
  14. Linden
  15. Waverly
  16. Zofia
  17. Pascale
  18. Eleanora
  19. Elika
  20. Neeka

The Twenty White Boy Names That
Best Signify High-Education Parents:

  1. Dov
  2. Akiva
  3. Sander
  4. Yannick
  5. Sacha
  6. Guillaume
  7. Elon
  8. Ansel
  9. Yonah
  10. Tor
  11. Finnegan
  12. MacGregor
  13. Florian
  14. Zev
  15. Beckett
  16. Kia
  17. Ashkon
  18. Harper
  19. Sumner
  20. Calder

What the hell kinds of names are these? So I have to give my kid a last name or name them after a magazine or I'm doomed to be lumped in as "uneducated"? Do any of you know a single person, personally, that has one of these names? I don't. Not with these spellings, at least. I know plenty that have them as last names, but certainly not as first names.

Okay, I realize that these names, as stated a few times by Levitt and Dubner, do not serve as an idicator of what will be for your child or for yourselves, they are merely a trend analysis. But does it make you wonder? Does it make you want to reconsider your kids' names at all?

For me... nah. I did find it fascinating to read about, though.

Oh, and for the record, "Kevin" was the #9 most popular black boy name in 1990. But I dropped off the list by 2000. Damn.

Here's the link to the FWDT review of Freakonomics.

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Tracy Lynn

Dude, I never make any lists at all. My name was popular twice; when A Philadelphia Story came out(which is why my mom named me, she watched that movie during the 24 hours of labor)and again in the mid 70's. And almost everyone gets the spelling wrong.

My father wanted to name me Mercedes- is that an indicator of anything?


Most of those names for high-educated parents seem like foreign names. So, I guess it is true that Americans come from uneducated indentured servants or peasants?! What do we have to live for anymore. We should turn our country over to the world and hope that in time we can become more intelligent. I need to become more edju-ma-caded myself. HELP! Damn my parents and grandparents and great grandparents and great, great grandparents for not picking the right names. I will now not recognize my family as my family. Instead, I will look for a european family to adopt me and my wife. Then maybe we will get new names and our kids will have a change in life. ;P

Bec, Preston

I used to know a Beatrix (and she was the daughter of two university lecturers); she was a really pompous seven year old. Last I heard she was running her own wine importing business. Why, oh why, didn't I get a really silly name, instead of (the ridiculously easy to shorten to something fluffy) Rebecca.
I blame all my failure on my name! My name is the reason I have not finished and sold my novel! My name is the reason I did not finish my degree! My name is the reason I never learned to juggle!

ms. sizzle

those high end educated names are bogus! especially the guy names- Akiva and Florian?

i am relieved to see my name nowhere on any of these lists but saddened to see my sister's name on the low end white girl name. so sad!


I don't see my name or my siblings on any of the list. My parents just named all their kids with the letters Ma starting their first names accept me. I was Mi the odd ball. Oh yeah is Rabbit's true name on one of these list? hahah


I'm glad my name wasn't on those lists. I suppose "Eleanora" is kinda close but no cigar!


Tracy, it means you would've been a BMW girl. It's a scientifically proven fact.

MIM, your kids have no chance regardless.... ;-)

Bec (& Preston), I can't imagine how someone with the name Beatrix would be anything but pompous. Sorry to any Beatrix-named readers I might have.

Sizzle, "hi, I'm Florian. I'm all man, baby!"

Mikey, we all know you're an oddball. Appropriate that your name reflects this fact as well. No, Rabbit is not on the list. Heh.

Elaine, I'm pretty safe as well. Phew! My wife on the other hand...


Man, that is messed up. Don't these parents realize that their kids have to LIVE with these stupid names their whole lives? You might as well just name your kid Apple or Scout or Bammalammadingdong. I did know a Phillipa when I was little. And I guess there's Ansel Adams. Otherwise, I don't know anyone with those names. Hell, most of them I've never heard of.

I noticed while I was reading the "high end" names that I went "yuck" to all of them, as if they were all snobby people. And the "low end" folks...those are the ones I want to know. Weird, huh?


Guilty as charged. Dustin = White Boy.


So I'm low-end? Does the "i" instead of the "y" make any difference?


Oh wonderful! Both of my kids are on the low end list of names. We ARE WHITE TRASH and I just can't escape it!!!ACtually, we live in the midwest though so perhaps these names are on the middle or high end in the midwest.

I am planning on checking out that book soon. Thanks for the reccomendation!


Oh wonderful! Both of my kids are on the low end list of names. We ARE WHITE TRASH and I just can't escape it!!!ACtually, we live in the midwest though so perhaps these names are on the middle or high end in the midwest.

I am planning on checking out that book soon. Thanks for the reccomendation!

PS... Alissa, I like how you spell your name. That's my daughters name. Maybe with an I brings you out of low end. Well at least we have Karl wanting to know us.


I'm not on any list...does that mean I'm lost?


Hey Kevin,

I really like the name "Charlotte." I don't think that is on any list.
I liked "Freakonomics." I thought it had some interesting view points that I hadn't considered.

There is another I have recently read that is better. Has an intro about Starbucks...I'll think of the title.
Cool post.


I have to admit, your title totally weirded me out and I was expecting a completely different post topic. Seriously though...where is my name on the lists? Maybe I'll have to read the book, I'm sure my name is mentioned in there somewhere. Perhaps on the most likely to succeed list? Or least likely to succeed? Or most likely to get fired for blogging instead of working?


Hahaha, all of you with your names/kids names on there are killing me. At least my kids, Roscoe and Trixie, aren't on the list. Suckers!


Ha ha. I think you should just give your kids names from Star Wars, like Qui-Jon or Obi-wan.


Damn, well neither my nor my SE's name are on any lists. Nor is our son Nicholas. Good solid name. Except apparently appart from the Saint they make good dictators. ha!

There is a kid in Nick's class called Cleopatra... wtf were they thinking?

Adair... sounds like the name of new air freshner or someting...



I am totally rivited right now. I have this book on my bookshelf but have not read it...now that I know this is chapter I'm going to it right now! amazing stuff


How in the world did I end up #3? What's the full deal on how that list was compiled? From what you say later it sounds like they're looking at names of kids born per decade in CA. But whitest names... Is prevalence of the name a factor? There must be a bunch of Claires growing up out there.

Anyway, as for the others, I had acquaintances named Phillippa and Sacha (female), and I have a friend who's naming her daughter Harper. I know a fair number of people with unusual names, but they're not anywhere close to what's on those lists.


I really enjoyed Freakonomics. The part that most intrigued me was their theory about a connection between the decreasing crime rate and legalized abortion. Bizarre, but yet logical.

I also recommend this book highly. I was thinking about writing a review of it for FWDT but never got around to it. I'm such a slacker.


Karl, that is the problem... parents don't think when giving some names to their kids. I feel sorry for Moses Martin (son of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin). If he's not some kind of sexual dynamo, then the jokes regarding Moses parting something are just going to be straight-up CRUEL.

Dustin, yeah, you don't really see your name outside the caucasian race, do ya?

Alissa, I was worried about that one as well. And, yes, spelling does affect it. Levitt and Dubner actually showed how something like 15-20 different variants of the name Jasmine were indicative of the education level of their mother. Heck, in the twenty whitest girls names list alone, there are four variants of Kaitlyn.

You're safe. You're the high-end Alissa!

Jacquie, we're all white trash. Yes, the "I" makes a difference in Alissa's name. Are you sure that Karl wanting to know you is a good thing? (Karl, if you're reading these comments... nya nya nya!)

Sandra, it might mean you're lucky!

Jackie, definitely let me know what the book is when you find it.

Nicole, yeah, it can be a weird title when interpreted that way. Katie did the same thing. When I was replying to a comment via e-mail, she saw the title and thought I was flirting. Alas, it's just a Lynyrd Skynyrd song. BTW, there are more than a dozen different name analyses in the book. I only reproduced a couple of them.

MrJerz, Damn! Those were going to be my kids names now that I read this book!

Kilax, Katie read that comment and declared, "hell no!"

Nat, Adair does sound like an air freshener. Good call.

Xtine, do read it! It's good.

Claire, prevalence was definitely a factor. And they were comparing how many times the name appears amongst the different commonly accepted "races." I'm not sure what the time period was on this. They made it sound as though they got the birth records of everyone from the 60s on until the point in time when they were working on the book. They weren't breaking this down by decade. That was just a whole other statistic they listed.

SJ, you can still write one. I prefer multiple reviews of a book. I found that theory intriguing, too. The way they explained it made perfect sense, though, didn't it?


was Susan on any of those lists? yeah, I didn't think so. I have such a boring name...

I love how Four of the Twenty whitest white-girl names are just spelling variations of the same name...


Odds are that Susan was on at least one of the many lists in the book. However, I returned the book to the library yesterday, so I can't check it for you. Sorry.


Hah, number 10 on Whitest. I'm kinda tan though.


Aren't you proud, though? ;-)


very interesting i read the book also.
just had a friend who had a baby
they named the baby caitlyn, i think u can't get more whitetrash than that.


I definitely would not show them the book. ;-)


I know someone who has one of those names (no.3)... has a highly educated mother and is getting an econ PhD. Too bad Kevin


Good to see people can break through the stigma! ;-)


About two years too late, but I found this blog while searching for names. I had a great time laughing at the 'educated' names! I'm a writer, and I can honestly say, I've never, ever used any of those names as first names for my characters. If I did, my readers would think I'd lost my mind, if my editor hadn't already sent it back with a kind, but stern, demand that I give them names that weren't so unbelievable.

I'd like to know, though...where did good old fashioned "John" go to? It's always been a personal favorite of mine, and all the John's I know are from well educated families. And they're nice guys to boot!


And we've got Hollywood leading the way with the weird naming. Gotta hate it.


Oh, don't get me started on Hollywood names. Actually, I do get Sunday Rose; Sunday's an old-fashioned name and has a basis in reality (think of Tuesday Wells). Plus, she has Rose to fall back on. But Appolonia aka Apple? Zola? Pilot Inspector? Racer, Rebel, and Rocket? It's like they are determined to curse their kids.

Personally, I'd love to see a return to the old virtue names. Patience, Prudence, Temperance, Honor, Mercy...those are unique, but not so outlandish as, say, Kal'el (Nicholas Cage was going through a Superman phase).


I feel horrible for those kids as they grow up.

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