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Baby Name Popularity, Data, and History
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Data FAQ

•Where do you get your data?
Most of the data for this website is straight from the Social Security Administration. In 1936 the United States government started to issue Social Security Numbers. Anyone born in the United States and issued a Social Security number had their first name collected.
•How accurate is the data?
The data should be fairly accurate! There are a few caveats with the data presented on this website along with any other website you may visit. First, for privacy reasons the SSA only publishes data on names with at least five new babies a year. This can make jumps in the data look more significant for rare names. If a baby name goes from four births a year to five it will appear in the data as going from zero to five. This issue is even more extreme at the state level where the same “five birth rules” applies. Second, historically not everyone received a Social Security Number at birth (or at all) and therefore their names would not have been recorded at all. That is why for most pages on this website we start the tracking at 1950, fourteen full years after the creation of the program. For most data on our website (including the top 10,000 names) we use data from 1950-2017. Right now state data is current as of 2016. There are over 100,000 unique names in our main dataset (1950-2017).
•Why can’t I find every name?
We are limited by names that are in data from the Social Security Administration. This is over 100,000 names! However, if a name is so rare it has yet to appear in the data then it will be missing from our site. The linked names (such as top correlated) were calculated from the main list of the top 10,000 names. Additionally, the autocomplete only includes the top 10,000 names. You can search for names out of the 10,000 if you simply type in the name without autocomplete.
•Why does a name with no births have a popularity rank?
In order to plot the names and make the graphic logical and easy to follow, each name had to be given a rank even if that year the number of recorded births was zero. It was set to be the maximum rank for illustrative purposes only.
•Why do some maps have an X on a state?
On each name page we have a map of the United States with birth rank data. However, names are only reported in a state if there are at least five births. For less common names in small states this means no data and an X was placed to signify the name did not get rank.
•Why is the map sometimes missing?
The map was hidden from view if too many states (or all states) would have an X over them due to the lack of data.
•How were the most popular names by state calculated?
The ranks on each state represent the rank that name achieved in that state in 2016. The states listed as "most popular" are the states where the rank is closest to one. It is actually possible that a name could be more popular in a state as a fraction of births but be lower in terms of rank if the distribution of names is crowded. The "least popular" states were calculated by looking at the states in which the name ranked the lowest. If a name was not listed it was assumed to have a rank of infinity. In some cases this may make small states more likely to appear. However, there is no way around this data issue.
•How were the correlated names calculated?
The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient was calculated for each set of names. A correlation of 1.0 would mean that the names varied together exactly (they got popular and unpopular at the same time at the related rates). A correlation of -1.0 would mean they varied together in the exact opposite manner (as soon as one got popular the other lost popularity and an opposite related rate). A correlation of 0.0 means the names have no popularity relationship at all and vary randomly compared to each other.
•Where can I submit a new data idea?
If you have new creative ways you would like to see the data visualized we would love to hear it! You can e-mail the data team at bruce@babynameinstitute.com. Don't forget to put your e-mail in the newsletter box at the bottom of the page to subscribe to important updates and research findings from the Baby Name Institute.
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Baby Name Institute - USA
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