What’s in a Name?
AbstractPlenty. This paper analyzes two broad questions: Does your first name matter? And how did you get your first name anyway? Using data from the National Opinion Research Centers (NORC’s) General Social Survey, including access to respondents first names from the 1994 and 2002 surveys, we extract the important “first name features” (FNF), e.g. popularity, number of syllables, phonetic features, Scrabble score, “blackness” (i.e. the fraction of people with that name who are black), etc ... We then explore whether these first name features are useful explanatory factors of a respondent’s exogenous background factors (sex, race, parents’ education, etc...) and lifetime outcomes (e.g. financial status, occupational prestige, perceived social class, education, happiness, and whether they became a parent before 25). We find that first name features on their own do have significant predictive power for a number of these lifetime outcomes, even after controlling for a myriad of exogenous background factors. We find evidence that first name features are independent predictors of lifetime outcomes that are likely related to labor productivity such as education, happiness and early fertility. Importantly, however, we also find evidence based on the differential impacts of gender and race on the blackness of a name and its popularity that suggest that discrimination may also be a factor.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1190.
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
names; identity; discrimination;
Other versions of this item:
- D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
- J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
- J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-08-02 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004.
"The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names,"
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"Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,"
American Economic Review,
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- Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 9873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
- Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are emily and greg more employable than lakisha and jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination," Natural Field Experiments 00216, The Field Experiments Website.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Agency & reciprocity in Corrie
by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-01-03 14:24:45
- Easily Pronounced Names May Make People More Likable
by Dave Mosher in Wired Science on 2012-02-24 11:30:37
- By George! Easy names give off more positive associations
by Peter Koval, PhD Researcher in Psychology at University of Leuven in The Conversation on 2013-07-24 19:39:57
- Solow, Benjamin L. & Solow, John L. & Walker, Todd B., 2011. "Moving on up: The Rooney rule and minority hiring in the NFL," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 332-337, June.
- Antecol, Heather & Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2008.
"Identity and racial harassment,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 66(3-4), pages 529-557, June.
- Franklin Mixon & Richard Cebula, 2012. "More is More: Some Economics of Distinctively-Named White Kids," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 40(1), pages 39-47, March.
- Stepan Jurajda & Daniel Munich, 2005.
"Admission to Selective Schools, Alphabetically,"
CERGE-EI Working Papers
wp282, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
- Stepan Jurajda & Daniel Munich, 2014. "Candidate Ballot Information and Election Outcomes: The Czech Case," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp500, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
- Costanza Biavaschi & Corrado Giulietti & Zahra Siddique, 2013.
"The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization,"
Economics & Management Discussion Papers
em-dp2013-08, Henley Business School, Reading University.
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