Republicans and Democrats Prefer Different Baby Names

by John Sides on June 4, 2013 · 7 comments

in Baby,Political Parties

republican or democrat party onesie 3m 6m 9m 12m 18m 24m

As we see in patterns of baby names, liberal elites use esoteric cultural references to demonstrate their elevated social position just as conservatives invoke traditional signals of wealth and affluence. Instead of divides between “Red and Blue states,” it is more accurate to say that America is divided not just by “Red and Blue elites,” but also in the ways these elites seek to differentiate themselves from the largely “purple” masses.

That is from a new paper (pdf) by University of Chicago political scientists Eric Oliver, Thomas Wood, and Alexandra Bass that I summarize in my latest post at Wonkblog.  Mike Munger, for his part, seems dubious.  But even if the underlying explanation is somewhat speculative, I thought this was an interesting exploration and a pretty creative use of data.

[You can buy the onesies from Michelle Lunsford at Etsy.]

{ 7 comments }

Todd Phillips June 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Was this study funded by the National Science Foundation?

John Sides June 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Not that I know of. But there’s always http://www.nichd.nih.gov/Pages/index.aspx.

Eric Oliver June 5, 2013 at 7:47 am

There seems to be a rapid preoccupation on the wonkblog site about who funded this research. The answer is … no one! The data are all publicly available (although you have to get permission from CA to access the birth registry information). But more interesting is why a paper pointing out differences in birthnames by ideology immediately triggers such suspicion and animosity about social science research.

Todd Phillips June 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

Sorry. I didn’t make that comment out of suspicion or animosity. With all of the discussion about NSF funding I couldn’t resist asking. More to poke fun than anything. But I would have been a little concerned if you had said it was.

Andrew Gelman June 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm

In all seriousness, I still think the best thing written on this topic is a blog post a few years ago from Laura Wattenberg (see here). The short answer is that you have to go beyond stereotypes of esoteric liberals and traditionalist conservatives.

Jay Livingston June 5, 2013 at 9:56 am

Little Trig and Liam aren’t old enough to be writing checks to the party (or even vote). But there’s some data on grown-ups who put their money where their names are. I blogged this last October (here). Jonathan gives to the Democrats; John to the Republicans. Tyler leans right, Andrew left (no last names implied); Tiffany right, Judith left (especially when you calculate it by dollar amounts rather than contributors). (For more on the methodology and results go to the original Yahoo post where I found these – here .

Andrew Gelman June 5, 2013 at 11:02 am

We discussed that graph (following Jay’s link) last year, here at the Monkey Cage.

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