Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Roland G. Fryer

Hey, mom. Where did you fetch my name from?

A variety of motives are at work when parents consider a name for their child.  

For example, parents may decide to select from traditional names, bohemian, unique, or perfectly trendy names are shuffled around or one parents is adamant on naming after a descendant, or affixing Junior one, two, three…as with the Bushes.

For example, where do lower-end families (economically and in social status…) go name shopping?

Parents try hard to signal something with a name, mostly to send a strong message of their own expectation: How successful their child will be…

Evidently, a name isn’t likely to make a shard of difference, but don’t try to kill the grain of hope in parents wishing to feel better trying to do their best.

Detailed data-bases, extending continuously for decades, have not shown that names are selected based on current celebrities: Names of celebrities of the famous and glamorous are generally symptoms, but not the cause for picking names to newborn.  

Usually, names are borrowed from families, a few blocks over (but never from neighbors), with the biggest car, the most luxurious house, the most educated and rather well-to-do…

The kinds of families that were the first to call their daughters Amber or Heather and now are calling them Lauren or Madison. Or names of boys going from Justin or Brandon to Alexander or Benjamin…

In general, as a high-end name is adopted in mass, high-end families begin to abandon their previous choices of names: It is eventually considered so common that even lower-end parents may no longer want it!

A name send idiosyncratic messages in the community.  

For example, you send two identical CV to an employer with different names such as DeShawn Williams and Jake Williams.  The odds are much higher that Jake will get a call, regardless if the employer is White, Black, or Hispanic. The employer does not want anything to do with a “potentially troubled” individual who lived in bad neighborhood and raised by poor and uneducated parents…

Roland G. Fryer Jr (see note) collected data from the California civil status registers, millions of pieces of data gathered since 1960. Fryer claims that he was interested in “Why mothers give particular names to their child, weird names…” The registers offered valuable bonus of where the mother was born.

Why focus on mothers?

I guess it stand to reason that, most probably, in low-end families, fathers are nowhere to be found when a baby is born?  What if many babies are born of single mothers, and who are not in the age of obtaining a driving license?

Fryer listed 20 most popular names for girls and boys for every decade, and it looks as names can cycle in and out very quickly: Barely three names on the 20 hottest names remain in the next decade list of “hottest names”

I do suspect that this economics professor had a “hidden agenda” and the “name research” was a collateral paper or a smokescreen excuse for undertaking this tedious research.

What do you think could be your real agenda, if you had to spend years pondering on this huge amount of data, and be funded to go all the way through?

I read this Tuesday, May 15, 2012 that Sofia is the most common female name in the US, while Jacob is still the first among the males for the third consecutive year. Isabella was displaced to the second rank after being the first for two consecutive years.

Note: This article was inspired by a chapter in “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt, and this chapter was written by Roland G. Fryer Jr.

Fryer came from a broken poor family: The mother abandoned the child with the father who turned alcoholic and violent. At the Univ. of Texas at Arlington, on an athletic scholarship, Roland quickly realized that he is not an NFL or NBA material, and focused on academic achievement.

He was hired by Harvard as economics professor at the age of 25.




February 2023

Blog Stats

  • 1,516,553 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: