Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Different Look at Hurricanes and Baby Names

Oddly enough, a day after I wrote that post about hurricanes and baby names the New York Times printed an op-ed piece on the same topic.

Photo courtesy of

The author, Wharton professor Jonah Berger, studied 125 years of baby-name data and discovered that hurricanes DID have an impact on people's choices  but not in the way you might think.
We found that names that begin with K increased 9 percent after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And names that start with A were 7 percent more common after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It wasn’t that people named their babies after the storms. (In fact, fewer people named their children Katrina and Andrew after each respective hurricane.) Rather, it was similar sounding names that spiked after particular storms.
He argues that people are attracted to the familiar, and after hearing Sandy thousands of times over the past few weeks, parents will subconsciously pick something similar.
The names Stephanie, Steve and Susan (as well as Randy, Mandy and Brandi) may also soon see an increase in popularity. In view of the damage the hurricane caused, these names sound somehow nicer than Sandy, but also nicely familiar.
In citing these names as examples, I think the author downplays longer-term trends (no one's clamoring to name their baby Susan or Steve  they're out of cycle).

My personal picks for S names: Silas (for a boy) and Sibyl (for a girl).

Have at them, Sandy victims.