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  • State Name Popularity

    October 30th, 2014
    data, states  [html]
    After Brandon posted a map of places in one state named after other states, I was curious which states are the most popular. I had some guesses: lots of Washington because of the president, older and bigger states more heavily represented, but I wasn't very confident in any of it. So I downloaded the list of domestic names from the USGS to find out. [1]

    179 Washington
    42 Virginia
    41 Texas
    28 California
    22 Delaware
    21 Wyoming
    20 Oregon
    19 Kansas
    16 Georgia
    15 Oklahoma
    15 Michigan
    14 Montana
    14 Maryland
    13 Nebraska
    12 Nevada
    11 Minnesota
    11 Florida
    11 Colorado
    11 Alabama
    10 Ohio
    10 New York
    9 Maine
    9 Iowa
    7 Vermont
    7 Connecticut
    6 Missouri
    6 Kentucky
    6 Illinois
    6 Idaho
    6 Arkansas
    6 Alaska
    5 Tennessee
    4 Utah
    3 Rhode Island
    3 New Hampshire
    3 Arizona
    2 West Virginia
    2 Pennsylvania
    2 Indiana
    1 Wisconsin
    1 New Mexico
    1 Louisiana

    No matches for: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota. The Dakotas and Carolinas make sense: if you consider them without "North" or "South" you get 9 for "Dakota" and 16 for "Carolina". You could think "New Jersey" is just suffering because it has "New," but "New York" did fine. Still, I can see why people don't want to name their town "New Jersey," and "Massachusetts" and "Mississippi" are kind of awkwardly long, but why not "Hawaii"? That's a nice place, and "Alaska," equally recent, has six towns including two in PA.

    If people aren't naming their towns "Massachusetts" are they at least honoring our excellent state in naming their children? The Social Security Administration provides names for people born since 1880, where at least five people were given that name and gender that year. Doing the same calculation we get:

    Virginia 648,005
    Georgia 146,132
    Montana 9,879
    Florida 3,532
    Nevada 3,431
    Washington 2,518
    Arizona 2,273
    Indiana 1,553
    Missouri 1,541
    Maryland 1,288
    Kansas 1,017
    Tennessee 806
    Texas 544
    Alaska 400
    Utah 341
    Louisiana 278
    Alabama 194
    California 150
    Iowa 79
    Nebraska 75
    Colorado 59
    Vermont 28
    Illinois 16
    Wyoming 11
    Maine 9
    Oklahoma 5
    Michigan 5
    Hawaii 5
    Because first names can't have spaces, the ten states with two-word names aren't included. But again if we break out "Dakota" and "Carolina" we get 108,013 and 39,348 respectively, so they would be up there.

    How well do these two measures of popularity correlate?

    Not very well. Except everyone agrees not to name things "Massachusetts".


    [1] Following Brandon, I filtered out anything containing "trailer," "historical," or "mobile home". Unlike Brandon I required whole-word matches, so Bidahochi AZ would not be counted towards Idaho.

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