Tuesday, February 18, 2020

100 Years of Baby Names

Over the past century, James has been the number-one most popular boy's name, according to the Social Security Administration. Between 1919 and 2018, nearly 5 million boys have been named James. The second and third most popular boys' names of the past century are John and Robert, followed by Michael, William, David, Richard, Joseph, Thomas, and Charles, to round out the top 10.

James is still a popular name. During the decade of the 2010s, it was in 9th place on the top-10 list. William and Michael were also on the 2010s list—in 5th and 7th place. The number-one boys' name of the past decade, however, was Noah. Also making an appearance on the top-10 list of the 2010s were Liam, Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Alexander, and Elijah.

Girls' names are more diverse than boys' names. All told, 35 million boys have received one of the top 10 names of the century compared to 15 million girls. Mary is the number-one most popular girls' name of the past 100 years. Between 1919 and 2018, 3.3 million girls have been named Mary. Other girls' names on top of the century list are Patricia, Jennifer, Linda, Elizabeth, Barbara, Susan, Jessica, Sarah, and Karen.

None of those names appear on the top-10 list of girls' names of the 2010s. Emma was the number-one girls' name of the past decade, followed by Sophia, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, Mia, Abigail, Emily, Madison, and Charlotte. The name Mary ranked a lowly 125th in popularity in the 2010s.

For a look at how names have changed over the past 100 years, here are the three most popular boys' and girls' names in each decade...

The 3 most popular names for boys by decade
2010s: Noah, Liam, Jacob
2000s: Jacob, Michael, Joshua
1990s: Michael, Christopher, Matthew
1980s: Michael, Christopher, Matthew
1970s: Michael, Christopher, Jason
1960s: Michael, David, John
1950s: James, Michael, Robert
1940s: James, Robert, John
1930s: Robert, James, John
1920s: Robert, John, James

The 3 most popular names for girls by decade
2010s: Emma, Sophia, Olivia
2000s: Emily, Madison, Emma
1990s: Jessica, Ashley, Emily
1980s: Jessica, Jennifer, Amanda
1970s: Jennifer, Amy, Melissa
1960s: Lisa, Mary, Susan
1950s: Mary, Linda, Patricia
1940s: Mary, Linda, Barbara
1930s: Mary, Betty, Barbara
1920s: Mary, Dorothy, Helen

Note: Alexa was the 90th most popular girls' name in 2018, the most recent year for which data are available. This ranking is well below Alexa's peak a few years earlier. It was the 32nd most popular girls' name in 2015—the same year Amazon introduced its Alexa to the general public.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of the Social Security Administration's Popular Baby Names by Decade

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