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Republicans and Democrats Prefer Different Baby Names

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.]

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This story by Joshua Tucker on the popularity of the Polish twin politicians reminded me of these thoughts from a few years ago:

Curious about the latest statistics on twins (I had heard that they are more frequent in the context of modern fertility treatments), I did a quick google.

#1 was for the Minnesota Twins, but #2 was for Twins magazine. I clicked through to the magazine’s “Facts and Stats” section which indeed confirms that the birth rate for twins in the U.S. (as of 2002) was 1 in 32 babies, that is, 1 in 64 births, quite a big higher than the historical rate of 1 in 80 births.

But what really got me were its fun facts. They list 10 famous twins, which include Elvis Presley (of course), Ann Landers, John Elway, and 7 other people who really aren’t so famous. My guess of the least-famous of these is “Deirdre Hall, actress, Days of our Lives.” I mean, if twins really represent 1/40-th of the population (and they do), can’t they get 10 more famous people than this? Even Ann Landers really isn’t so famous as all that. And John Elway is a pretty impressive guy, but I certainly can’t believe he’s one of the 40 most famous athletes of all time. (He’s not in the Sports 100, for example.)

They also list some “Famous parents of twins,” a list which includes many truly famous people, including George W. Bush (of course), Bing Crosby, Pele, William Shakespeare, James Stewart, Robert De Niro, and Margaret Thatcher. A much more famous list throughout.

It’s interesting that their sample of famous twins (who represent roughly 1/40 of the population) is so much lamer than their sample of parents of twins (who presumably represent a very similar population fraction. Quick calculation: suppose that the average person has 2 kids, and each birth has a 1/80 chance of being twins. Then each person has roughly a 1/40 chance of being a parent of twins. Or another way of saying it: each pair of twins has 2 parents, so there will be roughly the same number of twins as parents of twins).

One might first attribute this to fertility treatments, causing a disproportionate number of modern celebrities to have babies, and twins, at advanced ages. But this wouldn’t explain George Bush, Bing Crosby, etc. My guess is that children of celebrities are more publicized than siblings of celebrities. Also, Twins magazine is clearly aimed at parents of twins, not twins themselves. But still I’d like to think that they could do better than mid-list actors…

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Trixie Tracker, Or When Nerds Have Babies

Early in Ethan’s life, my wife sensed that he wasn’t getting as much sleep as some people recommend, and as a flyer on the bulletin board of our pediatrician’s office suggested. (That’s the foundation of good parenting: flyers.) I wasn’t sure she was right, so we decided to count how much he slept. A friend (and fellow nerd) had mentioned a website that they used to keep track of their daughter’s activities. I couldn’t remember it, but a little Googling led me to Trixie Tracker.

Trixie Tracker is a site invented by a stay-at-home dad. It allows you to keep track of basically everything your kid does—sleeping, breastfeeding, bottles, medicine, poop. The part I liked best was the graphs. Although the website will dump your data into a file, allowing you to manipulate them yourself, I just relied on the canned graphs that the website produces.

Below is an example. Each chart covers roughly a month of Ethan’s life up until a month ago, when we stopped keeping track. The charts capture the probability that Ethan was asleep during each 10-minute increment within the average 24-hour period from that month. The darker the area, the higher the probability that Ethan was asleep.


Ethan went from a typical newborn with an irregular schedule, to more consistent sleep at night with some lighter areas indicating feedings, to uninterrupted sleep for 11-12 hours every night with, after a few weeks or so, consistent naps. This is not because of any herculean Ferber-esque efforts on our part. We’re just very, very, very, very lucky.

The upshot? My wife was right. And Trixie Tracker is cool.

I welcome humor at my nerdy expense in the comments.

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