Gone are the days of having six Sarahs, three Mikes, and two Marys all in one elementary school class. Over the last decade of so, it seems like more and more parents are getting creative with baby names. While it’s easy to assume that the likes of Game of Thrones, Empire, and other facets of pop culture are responsible for encouraging unique names, psychologists have come up with a new theory connecting unique baby names and the economy. According to a new study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, there is direct correlation between the rise of unusual baby names and an unstable economic climate.
Using the economic downturn in 2008 as the focus of the study, the psychologists studied the first names of millions of babies born in the United States since 2004, and found that there was a significant change in the commonality of baby names during the Great Recession than in the years prior. Names like Khaleesi, Violet, Dream, Bowie have already seen a surge in the last few years.
The article stated, “[Parents were] less likely to give their children common names during the years of the Great Recession compared to the years immediately before it.”
The study claimed that parents chose to give their children unique names during time of financial difficulty in order to help their children stand out. The authors point out the cultural significance of naming a child, claiming that choosing a name is a direct indicator for influence.
“Choosing a name is an early, crucial parenting behavior, as names are the ﬁrst transference of culture from one generation to the next. For the parent, naming a child reﬂects the cultural and social inﬂuences of the time. For the child, the name becomes a keystone of the self-structure, even though the child had no inﬂuence in the decision.”
So, basically what they’re saying is that when times are tough and it’s hard to find a job, have a stable career, and stay financially comfortable, having a name that stands out could benefit that person. Has that been proven? We’ll have to wait and see. While we’re definitely surprised that pop culture doesn’t have as much influence as we thought, it’s always interesting to see what the root of trends like these are.