What's in a Name?

Document Type



Economics (CMC)

Publication Date



This article analyzes two broad questions: Does your first name matter? And how did you get your first name anyway? Using data from the National Opinion Research Centers General Social Survey, we find evidence that, even after controlling for a myriad of exogenous background factors, first name features are predictors of many lifetime economic outcomes that are related to labor productivity such as education, happiness, and early fertility. However, we also find evidence, based on the differential impacts of gender and race on the “blackness” of a name, that identity could be an important channel for linking first name to lifetime economic outcomes.

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© 2008 Western Economic Association International

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