Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Census names

[someone] has called my attention to the Social Security Administration's baby names site. It's fascinating. (I had seen some of these results in summary, but the full data is much better.) Sample facts:

* Emily is the Lance Armstrong of girls' names. It was 12th most popular in 1990, moves steadily up to #1 in 1996, and has now been most popular for eight straight years.

* After following a similar arc, Jacob has been #1 among boys for five years.

* Erik has been dropping steadily from 97th in 1990 to 159th in 2003.

* [someone] hinted at the surprising (to me) fact that Madison has been a top-3 name for four years for girls. And get this: so popular is Madison that even if you add an extra "d" in the middle and create Maddison, you have still chosen a name that is more popular than Susan!

* As you might guess from the previous fact, Susan has plummeted in recent years. It is tied with Ximena in 2003. That's right. Susan and Ximena were equally common.

* Check out the old names starting in the 1880s. The boys' names are unbelievably stable. And Emily has a long way to go to match Mary's old-time dominace: Mary was most popular every year, usually by a lot, from 1880 to 1947, when Linda topped the list.

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