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Most Popular Baby Names

by Taylor

5th August, 2017

Gradyn Chase Games, 7lbs 11oz (just like his Dad).

My cousin Justin and his wife Missy recently gave birth to an adorable 7lb 11oz baby Gradyn Chase Games. He is the first of my cousins to have a child and I’m super excited for him. The name Gradyn (or Grady as they intend to call him) seemed particularly unique to me and got me thinking about baby names:

  • – What names do I like if I were to have a kid?
  • How common is my name? How common is Gradyn?
    (not common! Only 17 Gradyn’s were born last year, making it the 12,222nd most popular name in the United States).

As it turns out, the dataset representing frequency of baby names across the country is freely available to the public from the Social Security Administration, so I thought I’d have a little fun with displaying the data below, where I also list off the names I have a particular fondness for:

Note: Below I’ve only loaded the top 3000 most names in the list below for latency, but the data accounts for all children born in the United States over the calendar year, and if you scroll down you can even search for the popularity of a name in a given year!

Insights from the data

I spent a good deal of time looking over the data as I developed the bubble chart and saw a few interesting things:

  • The desire for uncommon names increased substantially over time. We know this because if you look at the bubble chart from 1880 (the first year on file) there are just a handful of names that reach the threshold of “20% of the births of the most popular name”, the criteria I’m using to filter the most popular names. As we increase in time, the number of names that meet that criteria increase substantially. What this tells us is that there is a more even distribution of the frequency of names (i.e. folks don’t want to name their baby the most common name).
  • Some names start off as male dominated names, and can quickly become female dominated names. The reverse pattern does not seem to be true (female to male).
  • Overall, the most popular names stand the test of time. John, William, Mary, Emma, all have been near the top of the list from 1880 to 2016. That’s getting close to 150 years!

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by Taylor