Avoiding Low-Status Baby Names

Name researcher David Figlio says that adults of low socio-economic status tend to give their babies low-status names, and that low-status names put children at a disadvantage in school.

How do you spot a “low status” name? One way is to look for extraneous exotic consonants. Figlio says:

The higher the Scrabble score of the name, imagine the exotic consonants: X, J, Q, K, Z. It’s extremely rare for college graduates to give a child a name with two high point letters. High school drop-outs are 30 times more likely to give a kid a name with two high Scrabble point consonants. For example, the name ‘Alexander.’ A parent who is a high school drop-out is dramatically more likely to spell that name Alexzander. So the x/z combination in the middle of the name.

Source: How Your Name Influences Your Success

9 thoughts on “Avoiding Low-Status Baby Names

  1. Wow. My husband’s cousin, who did graduate from high school but then dropped out of her dental hygienist program, named her first son Jakob and her second one Jaxson. Wow.

  2. Generalizations like this leave out foreign names that originate in languages where X, J, Q, K, Z aren’t so “exotic.” For example Aziz Ansari father is a Gastroenterologist. But even if you flip it around to traditionally English language names… Barbara Walters’ daughter is Jacqueline and J.K. Rowling has a Mackenzie.

  3. Just spotted something that reminded me of this discussion.

    It’s one of the comments on a CBC News article called “Baby names: What are the most unusual you have heard?

    What’s in a name?

    Well, lots. As a former teacher I have had much experience with names.

    Excluding ethnic names, to which I am unable to relate in this context, I was able to look down the class list and pick out high and low achievers with reasonable accuracy. (All teachers can identify with this phenomenon) If the name was an invention, whim or misspelled, the chances that that child was a high achiever were considerably lower than someone who had a recognizable name.

    Obviously, there are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule. As a professional it had no bearing on my teaching; a teacher teaches all children equally. This is strictly an observation over a lifetime in education.

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