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Does Your First Name End in an N?

People count the strangest things. For example, Laura Wattenberg, creator of the website BabyNameWizard, likes to count the names of newborn babies that end in "n.".

Using Social Security records, she has collected some interesting data:

  • 36% of the newborn U.S. baby boys are given first names that end in "n"
  • From 1900 - 1950, only 14% of the newborn U.S. baby boys were given first names that ended in "n"...at the same rate as those ending in "s," "e," or "d"
  • In 1950, the ten most common names (e.g. James, David, Mary) were shared by 34% of the all boys and 25% of all girls
  • Presently, the ten most common names are shared by only 9% of all boys and 9% of all girls
Your Task: Design and do a survey to see if Wattenberg's data fits your local area.

Note: Why is this trend occuring? One suggestion is that parents today have more freedom, and are feeling less restricted to re-using relatives' names.Also, parenst are using "popular soundalikes" (e.g. Aidan/Jaden/Payton) which perhaps explains the preponderance of "n" data.

Andrew Gelman, Columbia University statistician, explains: "The distribution of names is more diffuce but the distribution of sounds is more concentrated. We have a new freedom in naming our children, and we use that freedom to conform."

Source: "Numbers & Letters," New York Times, January 29, 2013.