What's in a name? Finally some numbers

"Sunita is Delhi’s most common female name."  

What are India’s most common names? Does the popularity of a name change with age? These are some questions we’ve always wanted to answer and have finally found a way to. Information on names and ages is available through voter rolls but is notoriously hard to extract for analysis. SocialCops, a data analytics start-up, extracted information on first names and ages from Delhi’s voter rolls (which are luckily in English) and shared it with us, allowing us for the first time to answer some of these questions.

Sunita, we found, is Delhi’s most common female name, and Mohd, the most common male name. We haven’t grouped similar-sounding (Sunil and Suneel for example) names together, but if we did, there would be over 2.5 lakh variations of Mohammed, and over 1 lakh variations of Sunita.

Give our interactive a spin to find how common your name is. (Only names that are shared by five or more people are included here.)

Names are, of course, highly influenced by age.

Names like Rahul, Amit and Rohit, for instance, are rare among older men, but are thesecond, fourth and fifth most popular names among men aged 18-25. Among older men, names more obviously derived from references to God – Om, Hari and Jagdish, for instance – are more popular. Mohammed remain popular across age groups on account of the unique naming convention that many Muslims follow, where, irrespective of the ‘given’ name, the name of the Prophet is attached as a prefix.

Among women, Pooja, the favourite name of younger women, and Sunita, middle-aged Delhi’s favourite female name, are virtually unheard of among older women, who prefer Shanti, Santosh and Krishna among others. We have more analysis of the variation in names by age coming up in Part II of this series.

In all, Delhi’s 68 lakh men share 1.2 lakh unique names among them, while 54 lakh women share over 1 lakh names. Many of these,however, are particularly unique names and what are clearly typographical errors - when we set a threshold of names that were shared by at least ten people, the number of unique names fell tenfold to just over 16,000 and 14,000 for men and women respectively.

It often seems like there is far more creativity when it comes to names now than there was in the past, but that’s both true and not true. On the whole, the total number of unique names is higher among younger than older people.

But factor in population and the picture changes. Creativity in names has grown, but population has grown faster – the share of unique names to the total population is actually higher among older than younger people.

(This is Part I of a two part series. Part II – how names change over time)

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 12:54:35 AM |

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