IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/18802.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Distinctively Black Names in the American Past

Author

Listed:
  • Lisa D. Cook
  • Trevon D. Logan
  • John M. Parman

Abstract

We document the existence of a distinctive national naming pattern for African Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We use census records to identify a set of high-frequency names among African Americans that were unlikely to be held by whites. We confirm the distinctiveness of the names using over five million death certificates from Alabama, Illinois and North Carolina from the early twentieth century. The names we identify in the census records are similarly distinctive in these three independent data sources. Surprisingly, approximately the same percentage of African Americans had "black names" historically as they do today. No name that we identify as a historical black name, however, is a contemporary black name. The literature has assumed that black names are a product of the Civil Rights Movement, yet our results suggest that they are a long-standing cultural norm among African Americans. This is the first evidence that distinctively racialized names existed long before the Civil Rights Era, establishing a new fact in the historical literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa D. Cook & Trevon D. Logan & John M. Parman, 2013. "Distinctively Black Names in the American Past," NBER Working Papers 18802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18802
    Note: DAE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18802.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Cook, Lisa D. & Logan, Trevon D. & Parman, John M., 2016. "The mortality consequences of distinctively black names," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 114-125.
    2. 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.
    3. David N. Figlio, 2005. "Names, Expectations and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 11195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Irma Elo & Samuel Preston, 1994. "Estimating African-American mortality from inaccurate data," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 31(3), pages 427-458, August.
    5. Irma Elo, 2001. "New african American life tables from 1935–1940 to 1985–1990," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 97-114, February.
    6. Samuel Preston & Irma Elo & Andrew Foster & Haishan Fu, 1998. "Reconstructing the size of the African American population by age and sex, 1930–1990," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 35(1), pages 1-21, February.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    8. Claudia Olivetti & M. Daniele Paserman, 2013. "In the Name of the Son (and the Daughter): Intergenerational Mobility in the United States, 1850-1930," NBER Working Papers 18822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Costa, Dora L. & Kahn, Matthew E., 2006. "Forging a New Identity: The Costs and Benefits of Diversity in Civil War Combat Units for Black Slaves and Freemen," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(4), pages 936-962, December.
    10. Steckel, Richard H. & Ziebarth, Nicolas, 2013. "A Troublesome Statistic: Traders and Coastal Shipments in the Westward Movement of Slaves," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 792-809, September.
    11. Cook, Lisa D., 2011. "Inventing social capital: Evidence from African American inventors, 1843–1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 507-518.
    12. Jack Eblen, 1974. "Erratum to: New Estimates of the vital rates of the United States black population during the nieneteenth centrury," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 11(4), pages 715-715, November.
    13. John Parman, "undated". "Gender and Intergenerational Mobility: Using Health Outcomes to Compare Intergenerational Mobility Across Gender and Over Time," Working Papers 122, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    14. Fogel, Robert William, 1975. "Three Phases of Cliometric Research on Slavery and Its Aftermath," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(2), pages 37-46, May.
    15. Parman, John, 2015. "Childhood Health and Human Capital: New Evidence from Genetic Brothers in Arms," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 30-64, March.
    16. Jack Eblen, 1974. "New estimates of the vital rates of the United States black population during the nineteenth century," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 11(2), pages 301-319, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Carneiro, Pedro & Lee, Sokbae & Reis, Hugo, 2020. "Please call me John: Name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900–1930," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    2. Inwood, Kris & Minns, Chris & Summerfield, Fraser, 2019. "Occupational income scores and immigrant assimilation. Evidence from the Canadian census," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 114-122.
    3. Emily Nix & Nancy Qian, 2015. "The Fluidity of Race: “Passing” in the United States, 1880-1940," NBER Working Papers 20828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Margo, Robert A., 2016. "Obama, Katrina, and the Persistence of Racial Inequality," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(2), pages 301-341, June.
    5. Cook, Lisa D. & Logan, Trevon D. & Parman, John M., 2016. "The mortality consequences of distinctively black names," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 114-125.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Cook, Lisa D. & Logan, Trevon D. & Parman, John M., 2016. "The mortality consequences of distinctively black names," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 114-125.
    2. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2008. "Detection Of Local Interactions From The Spatial Pattern Of Names In France," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 67-95, February.
    3. Lisa Cook, 2014. "Violence and economic activity: evidence from African American patents, 1870–1940," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 19(2), pages 221-257, June.
    4. Disdier, Anne-Célia & Head, Keith & Mayer, Thierry, 2010. "Exposure to foreign media and changes in cultural traits: Evidence from naming patterns in France," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 226-238, March.
    5. Logan, Trevon D. & Parman, John M., 2017. "The National Rise in Residential Segregation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 127-170, March.
    6. Carneiro, Pedro & Lee, Sokbae & Reis, Hugo, 2020. "Please call me John: Name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900–1930," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    7. Lisa D. Cook & Chaleampong Kongcharoen, 2010. "The Idea Gap in Pink and Black," NBER Working Papers 16331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Liu, Liqun & Rettenmaier, Andrew J. & Saving, Thomas R., 2015. "Voluntary disclosure of a discriminated against characteristic," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 94-103.
    9. Mujcic, Redzo & Frijters, Paul, 2013. "Still Not Allowed on the Bus: It Matters If You're Black or White!," IZA Discussion Papers 7300, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Jan Hanousek & Štěpán Jurajda, 2018. "Názvy společností a jejich vliv na výkonnost firem [Corporate Names and Performance]," Politická ekonomie, Prague University of Economics and Business, vol. 2018(6), pages 671-688.
    11. Button, Patrick & Walker, Brigham, 2020. "Employment discrimination against Indigenous Peoples in the United States: Evidence from a field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    12. Olivetti, Claudia & Paserman, M. Daniele & Salisbury, Laura, 2018. "Three-generation mobility in the United States, 1850–1940: The role of maternal and paternal grandparents," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 73-90.
    13. Logan, Trevon D., 2009. "Health, human capital, and African-American migration before 1910," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 169-185, April.
    14. Maresa Sprietsma, 2013. "Discrimination in grading: experimental evidence from primary school teachers," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 523-538, August.
    15. Nicodemo, Catia & Raya, Josep M., 2018. "Does Juan Carlos or Nelson Obtain a Larger Price Cut in the Spanish Housing Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 11811, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2008. "Workplace Segregation in the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Skill," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 459-477, August.
    17. Maia Güell & José V. Rodríguez Mora & Christopher I. Telmer, 2014. "Intergenerational Mobility and the Informational Content of Surnames," Working Papers 2014-01, FEDEA.
    18. Arai, Mahmood & Skogman Thoursie, Peter, 2006. "Giving up Foreign Names: An Empirical Examination of Surname Change and Earnings," Research Papers in Economics 2006:13, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    19. Siddique, Abu & Vlassopoulos, Michael & Zenou, Yves, 2020. "Market Competition and Discrimination," IZA Discussion Papers 13269, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Güell, Maia & Mora, José V Rodríguez & Telmer, Chris, 2007. "Intergenerational Mobility and the Informative Content of Surnames," CEPR Discussion Papers 6316, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:nbr:nberwo:18802. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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.