While you might think that unique baby names are due to globalisation and the influence of pop culture (like TV shows for example), a new study suggests that it is actually tied to something a lot less exciting: the economy.
Psychologists recently studied the reasons why parents chose certain baby names and found that a desire to stand out surges in tough times. This matched up when looking at the economy - uncommon baby names rose during periods of financial crisis. The looked at 358 million baby names in the US from 2004 until now, and looked at the reasons why parents chose certain names.
Between 2004 and 2006, 66% of boys and 76% of girls had a name that wasn’t one of the 50 most common names of that time period. But this changed in 2011-2015, where 72% of boys and 79% of girls had names that were not in the top 50 most popular.
The authors of the study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, found that parents' motivations changed depending on the economic climate. Parents were “less likely to give their children common names during the years of the Great Recession compared to the years immediately before it,” they wrote.
The idea behind this is that a unique name might help the child stand out in a competitive environment.
Interestingly, researcher Jean Twenge told TIME that there used to be a baby name 'gender gap' when it came to this trend. But things are changing.
“Boys are still more likely to get a common name than girls,” Twenge says. “But parents are now more willing to give boys unique names as well.”
Looks like we'll see many more unique names in the future!