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


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