Monday, May 22, 2006

The Demography, Indeed.

Not too terribly long ago, Mark Steyn wrote an article entitled "It's the Demography, Stupid", in which he pointed out that Europe was, indeed, going out with a whimper and not a bang -- largely due to the dwindling traditional European demographic, and the "rising star" of the north African/Arab Muslim demographic. It's an eye-opening and important read, so if you have not read it, go there now.

Anywho, the Mazur boys just put up a post commenting on various baby name trends, including a link to the Name Voyager, which is a fun little toy to play with -- and play with it I did. Now, look at the trends for common, traditional boy names such as "Robert" and "James" and "William", etc. Virtually every common, ordinary name I typed in, with only a few exceptions, has been on the decline as a percent-share of the general population (which is the figure-of-merit on the charts at that link) since, typically, the 70's.

I think there are two possible reasons for this: a) name diversity has been increasing. Certainly (as the Mazurs lament), "Designer Names" are on the rise -- "Jaiden" and "Mackenzie" and "Skyler" and the like (and those are just the boy names!). This certainly accounts for some of it, but I think there's a bigger trend.

b) The proportion of people who would pick "common" or "traditional" names is decreasing. First, the most obvious increasing demographic in this country: type in names like "Juan" and "Carlos" and "Pablo" -- and virtually any typical Hispanic name you can think of! Every last one of them is on the rise, steeply. Now, I don't know a lot of white folk -- even those on the cutting edge of naming trends -- who who are naming their kids like that. So that certainly says something.

However, more in line with Steyn's observations, type in "Mohamed" (or just "Moham" to catch several variants). Type in "Ali". Sweating yet?

Of course, it's not all bad news. A lot of ultra-traditional names, taken straight from the Old Testament, are on a very steep rise as well. Abraham, Isaac (our own choice, should we have a boy in the future), Jacob, Israel -- got the Patriarchs covered (whither Joseph, though?). Prophets? Check: Ezekiel, Daniel, Jonah, Micah, Malachi, Zechariah, Elisha, Elijah... very steep rise on those names as well. So either the Jewish migration to Israel has gone in reverse, or there's a return to the "Judeo" part of our Judeo-Christian roots.

Still no Haggais or Habbakuks though. What gives?

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Anonymous Chris said...

Relative to other names, Mohammed is still a pretty small slice, but definitely surging.

I've done my share on the Judeo-Christian side; Matthew, Sarah and 3 year-old Anna.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Not precisely related to your post, but it's interesting how the popularity of the name Truman (my cat's name) plummetted after the late 40s. I thought he was more popular as president.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that the name was somehow becoming overwhelmingly popular, but the trend itself is interesting in light of Steyn's article.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Marty said...

Nice of you to call us the "Mazur boys", considering that the youngest of us is 16 years your senior. Must be that deceptive picture on our front page...

10:54 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Fine, from now on, it will strictly be "The Mazur Men".

8:45 AM  

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