IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Statistical Problems and Solutions in Onomastic Research: Exemplified by a Comparison of Given Name Distributions in Germany throughout the 20th Century


  • Denis Huschka
  • Gert G. Wagner


The German Socio Economic Panel Study (SOEP) offers the rare opportunity to look at patterns of given names amongst a representative sample of more than 50,000 people born since 1900. This article develops an exemplary picture of typical frequency distributions for given names and their developments over time. In this paper, we first discuss the advantages and limitations of various data bases which have been widely used to study the distribution of given names. Second, we address the problem that name distributions are typically characterized by a "Large Number of Rare Events" (LNRE) zone. With regard to this, we focus our attention on the difficulties associated with comparing name distributions. Third, we apply some measures of the concentration of distributions from other lines of research (economics and computational linguistics). Finally, we stress the problem of the statistical significance of differences in name distributions based on samples.

Suggested Citation

  • Denis Huschka & Gert G. Wagner, 2010. "Statistical Problems and Solutions in Onomastic Research: Exemplified by a Comparison of Given Name Distributions in Germany throughout the 20th Century," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 332, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp332

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805.
    2. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Given names; large number of rare events (LNRE); concentration of distributions; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • C49 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Other
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • Y8 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. SOEP based publications


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp332. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Bibliothek). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.