Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Trends in Baby Names, Part 2

At the risk of taking over this blog with more baby name graphs and analysis, I thought I would put a couple of more interesting ones I made, based on Polly's assertion that the name Brixton will eventually be one the top 1000 names for boys.

The Social Security name data for lists 14,258 unique spellings for names given to 5 or more baby boys who were born in 2011.  With 66 of the 1.8+ million boys being named Brixton you might think that it would be quite a while before Brixton cracked the top 1000, but the funny thing about names is that parents tend to like a lot of the same names, especially for boys.  

The top 10 names account for 8.8% of the number of baby girls and 9% of the number of boys.  The top 100 account for 34.3% and 46.5% respectively.  Or, nearly half the boys born in 2011 were given names in the top 100! 

This is further complicated by the fact that people often use alternate spellings for names which are pronounced the same way (i.e. Jayden and Jaiden). But the SSN treats them as unique names, so I will too.

Another way of looking at this is at how many babies were given the name which falls in the 10th, 100th and 1000th most popular names.

You can see from this that in order to break into the top 1000 names, there need to be around 192 babies named Brixton in a given year. Breaking the top 100 is much more difficult, while the top 10 is reserved for old favorites like Daniel, William, Michael, and Alexander.

There's a couple of neat graphs which can be made showing the percentage of the total each baby name represents and the cumulative percentage (shown for the top 1000 names).  You can see that the curves that the top boy name account for a larger percentage of the total than girl names; meaning that there is more diversity in girl names.

There's actually a name for this type of distribution in mathematics: The Pareto (or Bradford) distribution.  There's a bunch of math which would give you a formula that would describe each of the curves, but I'm not that much of a nerd. For analysis on a more nerdier level than I can accomplish, check out this research paper on the effects of popular culture on the naming patterns in France.

So, the question then is, about how long will it take for Brixton to break into the top 1000 if the popularity of the name keeps increasing at the same rate?  For this question I'm a little fuzzy on how to estimate the formula for the curve, but Excel has some cool formulas (LOGEST and LINEST) for estimating logarithmic or linear formulas based on statistical data.  So here's a projection based on existing data.

If trends continue at the same rate, Brixton may crack the top 1000 names around 2016. However, parents are fickle beings, and the popularity of names with 'x' (Paxton, Braxton, Brixton) may wear off, especially as more and more kids carry those types of names.

All I can say is that we've done our part for the name Brixton, it's up to the rest of America now.


grandma ann said...

Christopher (Chris) was a very popular name in the '60's-80's. I guess it's still chosen, but not as
much. People can sort of peg your age by your name, I guess. I went to school with a ton of Linda's, Carol's Sandy's etc.

oma said...

i think you love names, too, chris! or at least you're good at faking enthusiasm. :) i read a post on apartment therapy that noted that names that start with "Br" are trending so maybe that will help brixton's chances.

Anonymous said...

Nooooo!! I don't want it to become popular! My son is named Brixton Strummer. I got the name from the song guns of Brixton. I love punk rock and brixton is mentioned a lot.

PKJ said...

Our Brixton was named after the Clash song too! Great minds think alike!

Anonymous said...

We have Brixton Anthony and his name has gone over very well with both family and friends. Cute name.