May 17, 2009

easy come, easy go

Much has been written about how fads emerge. A new study by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and Stanford University looks at how quickly American culture gains and loses its taste for things and why the two may be related. The starkest example, based on 120 years of census data, is baby names: The faster they come to prominence, the faster their use declines.

The graphs come out as a little small, click on the picture or look at the original here.

Among the names that fall into the "easy come, easy go" category are Betty (1930s), Debra (1950s), and Amy (1980s). Names without a lot of ups and downs include Ellen, Caroline, and Katherine. Recent fads among boys' names all seem to rhyme: Jayden, Jaden, Caden, Kaden, Aiden.  Exciting, eh?

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