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


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