Interactive Map Shows How Baby Names' Popularities Change Over Time In Each State

Interactive Map Shows How Baby Names' Popularities Change Over Time In Each State

/ PHOTO: Dakota Corbin

A new tool lets you see regionally popular names and watch how names spread across the country.

By Joseph Beard


An animated map made using TIME's tool to show the popularity of the name John over the decades. Between 1960 and 2015, the number of children named John drops significantly across the cuontry, but the name remains popular in the South.

An animated map made using TIME's tool to show the popularity of the name John over the decades. Between 1960 and 2015, the number of children named John drops significantly across the cuontry, but the name remains popular in the South.

Sometimes baby names quickly become popular across the country. For example, how 'Kylo' jumped from the 3,269th to the 901st most popular name last year after the release of The Force Awakens [Indiewire]. Other times, a name will be far more popular in one region than another.

Chris Wilson, the director of data journalism at TIME.com, recently used the Social Security Administration's state-by-state data on the most popular baby names to make a list of the boys' names and girls' names most disproportionately popular in each state in 2016.

"To determine each state's most unique name, we looked at every name that had a significantly higher rank in one state than in any other," Wilson writes. "For example, "Berkley" was the 75th most common girl's name in South Dakota last year, while the closest second was Nebraska, where it was ranked 234th."

The article also includes a tool that lets you enter a name and see a map of how its popularity changes over time in each state.

I tried the map's time-lapse feature with the name John. Unsurprisingly, John starts out as very popular in every state and then drops in rank as newly popular names like Noah, the most popular boys' name in 2016, take hold. What is surprising is that the name remains popular in the South where it gets an uptick at the beginning of the millennium.

You can see the most idiosyncratic names from each state and try the interactive map yourself at TIME.

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