Locally popular baby names

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

The most popular baby names change frequently. We saw earlier which names were trending during the past decades. Usually, the growth in popularity is widespread — the most popular names are very common in every state.

But for some names, this isn’t the case. According to the official Social Security website data, almost all names exhibit some geographical patterns, though we are interested in those where such patterns are the most evident.

To accomplish this, we used a statistical technique known as a chi-squared test for contingency. This gives us a way to measure the variability of any given name’s popularity across different states.

For this post, we will limit ourselves to the relatively recent data: namely, social security card applications made starting from 2001.

Let us start with boy names. On the chart below, you can see that the top five locally popular baby names are William, Adrian, Carter, Owen and Hunter.

William is especially popular in the southeastern states. More than 2 percent of all boys were named William in Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina, compared to about 0.7 percent in all southwestern states. Conversely, the name Adrian is almost exclusively limited to the southwestern states. Carter and Owen, on the other hand, are more popular in the North.

As for the girl names, Madison and Brooklyn both show complex geographical patterns. Olivia is popular in exactly the same states as Owen, and the popularity map for Anna is surprisingly similar to that of William.

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About Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Andrey Kamenov is a data scientist working for Advameg Inc. His background includes teaching statistics, stochastic processes and financial mathematics in Moscow State University and working for a hedge fund. His academic interests range from statistical data analysis to optimal stopping theory. Andrey also enjoys his hobbies of photography, reading and powerlifting.

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