And the top 10 baby names for 2013 are:
Female: Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Ava, Mia, Emily, Abigail, Madison and Elizabeth
Male: Noah, Liam, Jacob, Mason, William, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, Jayden and Daniel
Each year around Mother’s Day, the Social Security Administration releases a list of the most popular names given to newborns in the U.S. They are a pretty reliable source because parents reveal the names when they register their children to receive Social Security cards.
It is striking that for 2013 the first six female names end in a vowel, specifically the letter “a.” Traditional Germanic and British female names (Elizabeth, Margaret) and Biblical names (Ruth, Esther, Rachel, Sarah, Deborah), don’t end in vowels. Elizabeth and William are the only 2013 names, female or male, that were in the top ten in popularity in the U.S. in 1920, almost a century ago.
A perusal of the most popular given names over the past century will show there was a long period of stability in giving infants traditional names. But over the past two or three decades there has been a dramatic shift away from naming a newborn after a grandma or dad or auntie or uncle. Here is a top 10 of given names by decades ending in 3, like 2013 does.
1923: Mary, Dorothy, Helen, Margaret, Betty, Ruth, Mildred, Virginia, Frances, Elizabeth
John, Robert, William, James, Charles, George, Joseph, Edward, Frank, Richard
1933: Mary, Betty, Barbara, Dorothy, Joan, Patricia, Maria, Helen, Margaret, Doris
Robert, James, John, William, Richard, Donald, Charles, Joseph, George, Thomas
1943: Mary, Barbara, Patricia, Linda, Carol, Sandra, Nancy and Sharon tied, Judith, Betty
James, Robert, John, William, Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Ronald, Michael
1953: Mary, Linda, Deborah, Patricia, Susan, Barbara, Debra, Maria, Nancy, Karen
Michael, Robert, James, John, David, William, Richard, Thomas, Gary, Charles
1963: Lisa, Mary, Maria, Susan, Karen, Patricia, Linda, Donna, Sandra, Deborah
David, Michael and John tied, James, Robert, Mark, William and Richard tied, Thomas, Kevin
1973: Jennifer, Michelle, Amy, Lisa, Kimberly, Maria, Angela, Melissa, Heather, Stephanie
Michael, Christopher, James, Jason, Robert, David, John, Brian, William, Daniel
1983: Jennifer, Jessica, Ashley, Amanda, Sarah, Melissa, Nicole, Elizabeth, Stephanie, Heather
Michael, Christopher, Matthew, David, Daniel, Jason, James, Robert, Joshua, Joseph
1993: Jessica, Ashley, Sarah, Taylor, Emily, Samantha, Brittany, Amanda, Rachel, Lauren
Michael, Christopher, Joshua, Matthew, Daniel, Tyler, Andrew, David and Ryan tied, Jacob
2003: Emily, Emma, Madison, Hannah, Olivia, Abigail, Alexis, Ashley, Elizabeth, Samantha
Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Andrew, Joseph, Ethan, Daniel, Christopher, Anthony
There have been times in the past when the entertainment industry created a surge in popularity for a name. For example, Shirley Temple brought Shirley into the top five of given names from 1934-39, and the character Lisa on “As The World Turns” helped make Lisa the most popular girl’s name of the 1960s. However, the influence of popular culture seems much greater now. Sometimes you can guess about how old someone is just by their given name.
Immigration and technology are changing America rapidly (perhaps too rapidly). The big turnover in the popularity of names over the past few decades may be embraced, or may be another troubling sign of the further erosion of the ties that bind.