Baby naming trends - and what it says about us

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Analysing baby name trends provides an excellent barometer of the national context, popular culture, social trends and generational change. We have just compiled the national Baby Names list for 2015 and it reveals 5 key trends at play in naming newborns.

1. Thinking alike

Around 1 in 10 Australian babies last year was given one of the Top 10 baby names- a total of 30,581 babies. Babies are 20 times more likely to be given these one of these top names than names at the bottom of the list. In fact more babies were given one of the Top 25 names than were given any of the next 100 names combined.

Oliver was the top boys’ name in all 6 states (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA, WA, TAS) while William was the top boy baby name in the 2 territories (NT, ACT).

Olivia was the most popular baby girls’ name in the three most populous states (NSW, VIC, QLD) while Charlotte was top in SA, TAS and NT with the names Emily and Amelia being the most popular in WA and the ACT respectively.

2. Traditional over trendy

There is a ‘Hundred-Year Return’ theme taking place, with many of the top names of today also amongst the top names a century ago, while names of a few decades ago have fallen out of favour. Today’s parents are not choosing names of their own generation. Of the top names of a generation ago Nicole, Michelle, Kylie, Rachel, Lisa and Belinda, Peter, Robert, Paul, Chris, Phillip and Scott, not one appears in the Top 100 list today. Rather, century-old names dominate the Top 10 Baby Names list. William is an example of the ‘hundred-year’ return, having ranked 2nd overall in NSW in the 1910s and ranking in top place again in NSW from 2009 onwards. Jack climbed up to 5th place in the 1920s before seeing a steep decline from the 1940s to 1970s, with a marked resurgence over the last decade and making it to top spot, and Oliver, Ethan and Thomas have similarly returned to popularity. Grace was a popular girls’ name at the turn of the 20th century, becoming almost extinct from the 1910s to 1970s but climbing significantly in popularity since the 1980s with the rise to the Top 10 and Charlotte, Ruby and Ava have followed similar trends.

3. Flowing girls names, short boys’ names

Parents are choosing longer, more flowing names for their daughters and shorter, “solid-sounding” names for their sons. Boys are almost three times as likely as girls to have a single-syllable name and girls are twice as likely to have three syllables in their names. There are 9 girls’ names in the Top 100 with 4 syllables (Amelia, Isabella, Elizabeth, Indiana, Ariana, Alexandra, Penelope, Victoria and Emilia) compared to just one for boys (Alexander).

The softer-sounding girls’ name and firmer sounding boys’ name trend is also evident from the use of vowels and consonants. 18 of the Top 20 girls’ names end with a vowel or ‘y’, with half (10) of these ending with the letter ‘a’. Only 2 of the Top 20 names ends with a consonant (Madison and Scarlett). On the boy’s list, however, 18 of the top 20 end with a consonant sound with Charlie and Henry the only names ending with a vowel or “y”. Girls’ names are not only most likely to end in a vowel but to begin with one too. 21 of the top 50 girls’ names end in a vowel compared to just 11 of the top 50 boys’ names.

4. Growing interchangeability

Only one name in the Top 100 appears on both the girls’ and boys’ list in its unchanged form – Charlie (18th for boys’ and 74th for girls’). The 2015 list does however show an increased number of interchangeable names such as girl’s names Harper and Jade being used for boys and from the boys’ list Riley, Tyler, Luca, Ashton, Bailey and Alex being used for girls.

Driving this trend is the use of surnames as first names which don’t have a particular link with either males or females such as Mackenzie, Taylor, Hayden, Flynn, Addison, Mason, Morgan and Cooper.

Another strong trend is using place names as first names such as Madison, Austin, Jordan, Eden, Hunter & Braxton, and again because of the gender-neutral nature of these names, there is some interchangeability.

5. A royal influence

The original category of celebrities – the royals – have not only captured the loyalty and affections of modern Australians but continue to significantly influence their choice in baby names.

Prince William’s popularity first placed William in the Top 10 in 2001 and the name’s popularity has grown significantly since then. In 2011, the year of the royal wedding, William became the most popular boy’s name Australia-wide and maintained this position until 2012 when Oliver took the top spot.. The birth of Prince George (George Alexander Louis) in July 2013 has positively impacted the use of George by Australian parents, increasing George’s rank from 71st in 2012 to 60th in 2013 and 42nd in 2014 – its highest ranking since the 1950s.

The birth of the royal princess in May Charlotte Elizabeth Diana will also contribute to the royal baby name trend. Like George’s rank, which increased from 71st to 42nd in 2014, we are likely to see a resurgence of the name Charlotte, and see her regain first position in 2016. Because Olivia had only 123 more occurrences than Charlotte , it is likely that Charlotte will achieve the top spot next year, and maintain that top spot for a few years to come.

When Elizabeth is ranked 53rd on the Top 100 list, we can also expect that name to rise in prevalence. And Eliza (currently ranked 81st) may also see a rise due to the influence of the Royal Princess, Diana, a name which peaked in the 1940s and again in the 60’s is also due for a resurgence, and with the influence of the Royal Princess is likely to achieve it as well as an increase in rank in the years to come.


Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


princess charlotte HSC media release resource china professional social Netflix australian social research aussie culture Generation X happiness participants trend speakers pack economy rain real conference speaker James Ward Generation Y ABS award winner ACF17 communities innovation futurist Word Up data visualisation generation Z ageing investing Christmas research national crime rates mccrindle research January 26th world youth day rise of local survey design NFP event Sydney’s south west global generations plans nativity scene Sydney keynote speaker future proofing thrive hello fresh affordability Christmas data food schools students responsive shifts February 16 divorce teach kate middleton Kirsten Brewer earning demography TEDx money Australian Trends hobart social impact retirement education church cultural diversity generational trends growing population insights investment outsourcing World Water Day life surnames priorities analysis Do It Yourself environment Hills Shire Council career Gen Z Expert employmee ageing population pharmacies nfp chairty small business shopping centre litter researcher sun engage demographic trends owning a home alpha 1975 Black Friday in Australia energy housing growth future-proof maiden names focus groups parents non profit JOMO research pack christmas census 2016 state crime city hornsby keynote students Northern Territory speajer couple global generaion McCrindle Speakers staff Christmas in Australia local community data analyst environmental scanning food insecurity typical australian optimistic coffee Christmas lunch sector wide study marriages gold coast population milestone the australian dream school 1980 home research data networking socialising rent census Western Australia student McCrindle Speaker neutral bay house price rise 1968 hills suburban living teaching events charity Education Future Forum easter New South Wales financial school students authenticity area house price mccrindle tea ultimo jobs easy rider baby name predictions wealth distribution Real Estate Institute of Victoria brands urban Mark McCrindle in the media friends australians staying home more cold Res Vis results fresh cancelling event keynote speaker social shifts wedding seasons sector wide consumerism narcissism financial fears cost SMSF cartodb quote generations household Social Trend Myth australian communities forum hopes gig economy Australian Bureau of Statistics urban living Performance Sentiment Index wealth and income distribution australian communities trends report Financial Planning Week New Zealand commute graphs mover and shaker university collaboration VIC product know the times royal influence ideas proactive dreaming 2013 young people Population Clock in depth interviews communications capital city NT google follow faith social trends 2016 conference presentation social lives trend tuesday newspaper year 7 staying in Australian Home DIY McCridle Scouts dreams mining boom toys 2014 trends Australia Day 2017 ferry Northern beaches Event baby names report seasons greetings wellbeing future proof gen z do people still change their surname after marriage? teachers future of education experience demographer moreton bay mccrindle Australian Communities Trends Jura Coffee volunteering data monarchy rental stress 2017 Australian Dream etiquette house prices home ownership casual Australian Families train Births dare to dream Northern Beaches resilience employers USA learn screenagers trends analyst ashley fell spirituality #censusfail new office belief annual income Real Estate urban development buildings bureau geomapping FOMO 2009 repayments communicate travelling panel ACF consumer children new york times donate demographics community engagement click charities screenage US presentations teacher Lower Hunter Region online shopping huffington post fears focus group employmer list households mateship the hills summer emerging technologies Vocational education states wolloomooloo What is food insecurity? goals Christchurch skills care support australian community trends report national private wealth transport organisational culture twentyseventeen Valentine’s Day shbc Hornsby Shire Council living coffee lovers Wellington sentiments Caregiver debate Deaths Mount Annan-Currant Hill mccrinlde Kiwi overcast Tasmania Research Director paying to work Christmas season future of shopping Canberra royal family women grave decision affordable office space cancelling plans google for education vegemite holiday education sector Gen Y digital economy mentor Gen X TEDx Speaker news average aussie Territory divorce rate Aussie who is generation z technology young australians culturally diverse impact event growth of sydney lifestyle vegetarian national wealth housing offenders not for profit Duchess of Cambridge mother's day greatness men South Australia sydney property market sydney metro perth schools Australian Census baby name teleworking generation alpha tableau internet high density names earnings financial future Black Friday storytelling Australian Population tea The Daily Edition aged care medicine unemployment crows nest video university degree social analysis suburb capital cities Australia street goal group property price CBD politics Macquarie University sydney event investor REIV Conference tattoos healthy future high school "know the times" poor poker master rule keeper public speaker professional speaker volunteers victoria in the media demographic media commentary Crime Rates housing trends mythbusters tv research visualisation training manly waverton intern professional services sydney market research services Love property global food bank census data personal growth digital Australian demographics Queensland: QLD land of the middle class mortgage leadership workshop cultural diveristy brand experience logan weather engagement faux-ciliser survey SMART TED talk royal baby Australians population growth local communities conferences world christian WA education research parenting careers sector families Royals Understanding and Engaging with Generation Z unaffordable local safe social media visualisation NBRS Architecture average Australian language daily commute social life emerging generations cash ethnography daily telegraph Christmas Stats ACT Report the lucky country Engineering Manager workshop relevant collaborative story baby names baby name trends IT Specialists jobs of the future publication curiosity year 12 donation the changing face of society trends giving trends of 2017 business emerging trends Business analysis holidays financial dreams case study population map infographic sunburnt country Australia Day ipswich micro apartments TDE TAS deloitte interactive work-life australia financial planning VET 2012 potts point future sydney speaker eliane miles aged care puzzle religion Willowdale Christmas presents residents urban living index tips learner snapshot Elderslie-Harrington park TED study rising house prices sunny days Financial Planning Association of Australia 23 million global generation HR workforce faux-cilising long weekend 10 years friendship insight SRE omnibus wealth inequality educated wealth wages facts qualitative research apartment sustainable brisbane anzac live the dream Hunter Valley Wodonga thought leadership ashley mckenzie growth winter public holiday india property development recap social commentator average sydneysider baby names australia report wealth and income The ABC of XYZ the average aussie optus NSW salary Sydney Hills Business Chamber Andrew Duffin cost of living criminal Australian schools not for profit research sydneysiders Research Executive visual PSI FPA Jura Australia bus child care high density living work from home NBRS Sydney dessert SA celebration woolworths NEETs Australian community trends the great screenage Cobbitty-Leppington winter blues school satisfaction water pharmacy christmas trees McCrindle Keynote Speakers tertiary education slideshare renting supply and demand Melbourne future of work REIV National Conference media activity 24,000,000 baby leader internship organisations educhat government leadersip acf15 business performance ACF 2016 mythbusting Christmas day forum house townhouses younger generations mobile darwin australian public transport micro contiki System's Architect going out low density program changing face of sydney innovative motivate data suburbs budget gender prince george wage marrickville menai define workplace car 2020 ACT increasing densification choice workers eliane Northern Beaches Christian School group session employment millenials indonesia father's day work mates commuters christmas 2017 the hills shire maiden EFF GPO tuesday market research baby boomers ease of travel Wagga Wagga clothing rich millionth identity economic gen alpha office opening travel global financial crisis learning styles relational Geoff Brailey hunger social researchers statistics business index social researcher cooking social change Retail VET sector Mark McCrindle apartments post rationalism breakfast social commentary Aussies English change New Zeland community forecast internships surname family bondi cancel plans infographic wall dream norwest conference entrepreneurial entrepreneur hills shire not-for-profit Christmas day weather meals youth unemployment debt learning Charlotte weekly earnings Bathburst 2016 census results stats speaker 24 million stay home leadership culture home owner village demographic transformations research on coffee social research finance volunteer generation education future report Black Friday Sales mccrindle in the media presentation education future community event australian real estate sydneycity challenge 1994 professional development CPI housing market commuting cars income optus my business awards Tuesday Trends professional presenters 40 million shopper's pick marriage cloudy days property market research report millennials Channel 7 selfie moderators guide balance faux-cilise infographics 2016 census showreel blaxland Skilling purpose Lower Hunter pyrmont socialites happy holidays social issues population entertainment speakers builders 2015 social enquiry Merry Christmas social analyst lalor park youth sydneysider baby boom ACF2017 award workplace culture customer Maxim Accounting trends of 2016 volunteering Tuesday Trend marketing census fail equip middle class personalities Assistant Store Manager shopping online domestic report christianity royal Financial Planning Association office Sydney Lifestyle Study gig Sydney population urban taskforce Work place spend Australian communities research society trades high density apartments Channel Seven entrepreneurs of today Queensland financial independence communication work forecasting global retail grandparents Adelaide brand sydney hills cica media census results earn renter of the future sports DESTEL housing affordability megatrends meetings public speaking 1995