2005's Hottest, Nottest
The fastest rising and falling baby names make up a time capsule of a given year. They show off changing fashions, cultural trends, and even world events. The biggest movers of 2005:
Some signs of the times in the rising names: Hot years for R&B star Ciara and auto racer Danica Patrick (as predicted here, I must modestly mention.) Talan, the #1 debut of the year, comes straight from MTV's "Laguna Beach." Pope John Paul II was mourned and remembered.
Falling names seldom have that ripped-from-the-headlines immediacy. Some readers have speculated that Kanye's decline could be linked to rapper Kanye West's tongue-lashing of President Bush. It's possible, but I don't think so -- it's more a case of easy come, easy go. The name Kanye rose out of nowhere in 2004 thanks to West's sudden fame, and it simply settled back down a bit the next year when it (and he) no longer sounded so fresh. Ashton is a similar tale, while names like Alexis and Colby are running away from androgyny and Justin and Jessica have hit the downslope after 30 years of steady popularity.
And now, for the hard-core data hounds out there, the nitty gritty. Where did these lists come from? Warning: statistical discussion to follow. If you couldn't care less about the calculations, feel free to surf on. See you next time for the Baby Name Pool results!
Here were two reasonable candidates for the fastest falling names of the year:
Dropped from 504 born to 200, falling from #488 on the popularity charts to #889.
Dropped from 27,727 born to 25,347, falling from #1 on the popularity charts to...#1.
Kanye's drop in rank was precipitous, but the real effect on the world was relatively modest -- a difference of 304 babies, compared to the whopping 2,380 fewer babies named Jacob. Yet the popularity of Jacob fell by only 9%, and it's still the top dog. What's a fair measure of change that lets you compare common and uncommon names?
After some testing and consultation, I've settled on an official Baby Name Wizard formula for measuring "hotness" of names. It's a simple calculation designed to balance the different measures of change. (If you have a better solution, I'm all ears.)
Square root of the absolute change in frequency, times the percentage change
(sqrt |2005N-2004N|) * (2005N-2004N)/2004N
Note: names not present on the top-1000 charts are treated as 2/3 the frequency of the #1000 name of the same sex.
Jacob, incidentally, ranks #11 on the falling boys list, even while retaining its crown as America's favorite name.