Maryland’s Open Data website includes a single table of Maryland baby name rankings (2011) broken down by race/ethnic group. This is cool because New York City does the exact same breakdown, and we happen to have the equivalent NYC baby name rankings (2011). So we ought to be able to compare and contrast the two sets of rankings, right?
Yeah, that’s what I thought…until I started looking more closely at Maryland’s data.
According to the SSA, these were the top 10 boy names in Maryland in 2011:
- Aiden (tied for 10th)
- Jayden (tied for 10th)
But according to the state of Maryland, the top 10 boy names were quite different:
It isn’t totally implausible that Aiden and Jayden might have ranked 1st and 3rd in 2011, but Christopher in 2nd? Maybe if this were a dataset from thirty years ago, but not five years ago. The SSA indicates that Christopher ranked closer to 18th in the state that year.
And what’s with the two different spellings of Jayden/Jaiden?
Plus there are some sizable raw number discrepancies, such as:
- Aiden: 588 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
- Christopher: 584 babies (MD data) vs. 256 babies (SSA data for MD)
- Jayden: 498 babies (MD data) vs. 281 babies (SSA data for MD)
- Mason: 463 babies (MD data) vs. 432 babies (SSA data for MD)
And now the girl names. According to the SSA, these were the top 10 girl names in Maryland in 2011:
According to the state of Maryland, though, the top 10 girl names in the state were these:
Not only does Isabel magically replace Isabella in the Maryland data, but McKenzie and Riley rank 8th and 10th — even though the SSA says they should be closer to 77th (!) and 28th.
Not to mention the raw number discrepancies, such as:
- Sophia: 503 babies (MD data) vs. 367 babies (SSA data for MD)
- McKenzie: 325 babies (MD data) vs. 71 babies (SSA data for MD)
- Riley: 298 babies (MD data) vs. 118 babies (SSA data for MD)
Intriguing parallels between the MD data and the NYC data do exist. In both locations, Elijah and Isaiah were in the top 10 for African-American boys only, and London, Aaliyah, and Taylor were in the top 10 for African-American girls only.
But if we can’t trust the data, we can’t draw any meaningful conclusions.
Labels like “Caitlin/Kate,” “Sara(h),” “Zoe(y)” and “Lillian/Lily” suggest that variant names were combined here and there. I suspect this is also what happened with Isabel/Isabella, Sophia/Sofia, Aiden, Jayden, MacKenzie, Riley, and maybe even Christopher (perhaps Maryland merged all the “Chris-” names). What are your thoughts on this?