Do Our Names Affect Future Success?

What we name our kids is one of the most identifying things we can do as a society. The meanings behind every parent’s naming decisions vary: to carry the family name, liking they way certain names sound, to make a statement, or sometimes on just a whim.

As naming trends are starting to stray away from traditional names to becoming more diverse, can what we name our children affect their future success? According to Business Insider, the names we give our kids can indicate their socioeconomic status, race, or illicit certain stereotypes. For example, 49% of teachers make assumptions about children based on their names (Jacks are troublemakers), super feminine names are expected to pursue careers in nursing or hairstyling, and job recruiters are 17% more likely to look resumes of white-sounding names than black-sounding names. A film called Freakonomics covers this topic in more detail and I’d recommend it if you’re interested in learning about more about the research findings. Or you can check out this YouTube clip.

It’s obviously not the name itself that can dictate future success or failure, but rather the social connotations that allude specific stereotypes – and resulting assumptions – of who that person is. So when it comes to naming our kids, should we play it safe and pick a name that we think will be well-received in the job market? Or ignore all the societal stereotypes and choose what we feel is best? We’ll probably never know the answer, especially since success can be subjective.

Nevertheless, it’s still interesting to see what kinds of names are the most popular to get an idea of how trends are changing. I collected some of the world’s most popular baby names of 2013 by country, according to I wasn’t able to find much data on naming trends in African, Asian and South American countries, so if you’re aware of any articles or resources, please share!

United States

  • Boys: Noah, Liam, Jacob, Mason, William
  • Girls: Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Isabella, Ava


  • Boys: Harry, Oliver, Jack, Charlie, Jacob
  • Girls: Amelia, Olivia, Jessica, Emily, Lily


  • Boys: Jack, James, Daniel, Sean, Conor
  • Girls: Emily, Sophie, Emma, Grace, Lily


  • Boys: Santiago, Mateo, Diego, Miguel Ángel, Emiliano
  • Girls: Ximena, Maria Jose, Valentina, Maria Fernanda, Valeria


  • Boys: Benicio, Benjamin, Bautista, Thiago, Santino
  • Girls: Isabella, Valentina, Sofia, Juana, Martina


  • Boys: Benjamin, Vicente, Martin, Matias, Joaquin
  • Girls: Martina, Sofia, Florencia, Valentina, Isidora


  • Boys: William, Lucas, Oliver, Noah, Jack
  • Girls: Ruby, Charlotte, Emily, Olivia, Chloe


  • Boys: William, Oscar, Lucas, Hugo, Elias
  • Girls: Alice, Elsa, Julia, Ella, Maja


  • Boys: Lucas, Emil, Mathias, Jonas, Alexander
  • Girls: Nora, Emma, Sophie, Linnea, Sara


  • Boys: Nathan, Lucas, Leo, Gabriel, Timéo
  • Girls: Emma, Lola, Chloe, Ines, Lea


  • Boys: Francesco, Alessandro, Andrea, Lorenzo, Matteo
  • Girls: Sofia, Giulia, Martina, Giorgia, Sara


  • Boys: Noah, Luca, David, Leon, Leandro
  • Girls: Mia, Alina, Laura, Julia, Anna


  • Boys: Daniel, Hugo, Alejandro, Pablo, Alvaro
  • Girls: Lucia, Maria, Paula, Daniela, Sara


  • Boys: Rodrigo, Martim, Joao, Alfonso, Goncalo
  • Girls: Maria, Matilde, Leonor, Mariana, Beatriz


  • Boys: Luca, Maximilian, Alexander, Paul, Ben
  • Girls: Sophie, Marie, Maria, Sophia, Mia


  • Boys: Jakub, Kacper, Filip, Szymon, Jan
  • Girls: Julia, Lena, Maja, Zuzanna, Wiktoria


  • Boys: Narek, Davit, Gor, Hayk, Erik
  • Girls: Mane, Milena, Mari, Elen, Nare


  • Boys: Danil, Maxim, Artyom, Ivan, Alexandr
  • Girls: Sofiya, Anastasiya, Daria, Maria, Polina


  • Boys: Noam, Itai, Uri, Yehonatan, Daniel
  • Girls: Noa, Shira, Maya, Tamar, Yael


  • Boys: Berat, Yusuf, Emir, Mustafa, Mehmet
  • Girls: Zeynep, Elif, Ecrin, Yagmur, Azra


  • Boys: Haruto, Yuto, Sota, Yuki, Hayato
  • Girls: Yui, Rio, Yuna, Hina, Koharu

South Korea

  • Boys: Minjoon, Jihoo, Jihoon, Joonsuh, Hyeonwoo
  • Girls: Seoyeon, Minsuh, Seohyeon, Jiwoo, Seoyoon


  • Boys: Aarav, Vivaan, Aditya, Vihaan, Arjun
  • Girls: Saanvi, Aanya, Aadhya, Aradhya, Ananya


  • Boys: Mohamed, Adam, Ahmad, Zikri, Rayyan
  • Girls: Nor, Sophia, Alicia, Damia, Zara

Photo credit: Clever Cupcakes

Josie Claire

Josie Claire

Hi Guys! My name is Josie and I'm a traveler, writer, photographer and adventurer with a curiosity for anything and everything. Introduced to travel at a very early age, I've been addicted ever since and have explored over 33 countries, documenting my stories along the way.
Josie Claire

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  • Reply August 6, 2014


    Hey Josie! Found an interesting article about naming, although it didn’t touch on any of the countries you mentioned having difficulty finding info on. Aside from the spelling mistake at the end, this seemed to have some interesting thoughts on how a name affects a baby’s future. The more religious the country, the more the actual meaning of the name affects popularity; whereas in more secular countries, it’s more about how the name sounds and solely based on how the parent feels about the name. Interesting stuff! For what it’s worth, Michelle means “who is like God”.

    • Reply August 6, 2014


      Haha thanks Michelle, who is like God 😉 I thought it was interesting how we tend to make judgments on names that affect how we treat people with those names, which can ultimately affect things like self-esteem, self-perception and even career choices. It’s almost as if part of the reason why we choose certain names is due to how we think those names will be received by others, which research is showing really does make a difference. Thanks for sharing!

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