The thing about Jennifers

A few months ago, I wrote this piece about a fictitious junior high school dance.  I had to come up with names for people and also wanted to keep it somewhat generational, so I did about five minutes of research to figure out what the most common names were for the mother and daughter given their respective birth years.  One thing that struck me was the ridiculous fifteen year reign of Jennifer as the most popular name of baby girls.  I thought that might be something worth talking about, so I stuck it away for later.  Well, later is now.

My first inclination was that perhaps there was some generational trend to the long standing dominance of Jennifer.  Maybe people just sort of latched onto that name without giving it much thought.  But apparently it’s not such an anomaly after all.  Emily recently completed an eleven year reign, and prior to that there was a string of eleven years in which Jessica reigned supreme for all but two.  If we look at male names, Michael reigned supreme for every year but one from 1954 until 1998.  Definitely not a generational thing, but it still makes me wonder if maybe Michael Lehmann should have called it Jennifers instead.

Well, if the topic is the Jennifers of Generation X, it seems like the expert on the subject is probably jenx67, as that is her name and all.  It turns out she wrote an article about this a little over a year ago.  So if you are a Jennifer or know a Jennifer, you might want to check out what she had to say.  If you don’t know a Jennifer, then maybe you are reading the wrong blog.

(Now that the government is open, I can look at places like the social security website to get a measure of name popularity.  I’m not sure where I checked before, but I think this is likely the more reliable source…)


2 Responses to “The thing about Jennifers”

  1. Jennifer McCarthy Says:

    Having been one of many “jennifers” growing up, one of my criteria for naming my own child was it could not be (among other things) in the top 10 of names from the social security website. In fact, the further away from #1, and still be a “normal” name, the better.

    • This is part of why I was surprised that it didn’t turn out to be a generational thing. I remember lots of Jennifers growing up who did not like having the same name as everyone else. And yet here we are 20-30 years later with almost as many Emily’s and Emma’s running around as we had Jennifers back then.

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