Has the Internet Made Baby-Naming More Local?

The Internet has created a global village, right? Well — yes and no, according to Drs. Jacob Goldenberg and Moshe Levy of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They think that the Internet has actually done more to increase local, as opposed to global, communication.

Their evidence? In part, baby names.

The researchers analyzed the way popular baby names in the U.S. “spread” from state to state. From 1970 until the early 1990s, they found that the proportion of babies given a certain name in a region in which that name was already popular was 20% higher than expected. From the 1995 to 2005, that same proportion jumped to 30%.

The doctors believe that the IT boom of the 1990s (and, I’m assuming, the online communication between people in the same localities) is behind the 10% increase. It’s hard to know if this is really the cause, but it’s an interesting correlation nonetheless.

Sources: Distance Is Not Dead: Social Interaction and Geographical Distance in the Internet Era (pdf), The Economist

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