Vol. 59 No. 1 (2011)
Research Article

Socioeconomic Determinants of First Names

Published 2011-03-01


  • WOMEN,
  • AGE



Modern naming practices in the Netherlands between 1982 and 2005 were studied on the basis of 1409 popular first names, divided into fourteen name groups determined by the common preferences of parents for the names involved. Socioeconomic variables such as family income, parents' level of education, and lifestyle indicators were analyzed in relation to the names — and name groups — of the children in 281,751 households. Naming practices could be described on two independent dimensions. The first of these was education and family income: parents with lower incomes and levels of education preferred English, Italian, Spanish, and international names, while those with higher incomes and levels of education chose predominantly Dutch, Frisian, Nordic, Hebrew, and French names. A second dimension distinguished between conservative and religious parents with a preference for traditional names, and trendy parents who favored shorter and modern names. The complex nature of the relationship between social class and naming practice, and its dynamics, is discussed.


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