I was named Anna for three reasons. It wasn’t too long, had no nicknames (Other than Ann but my parents didn’t count that), and was popular at the time. My sisters name is Sara for three reasons as well. Not too long, no nicknames, and popular. See the similarities? My parents are middle class people who, in much respect, believe in the average reality of life. And if they had to enter a talent show the would get first place for their talent of settling and accepting reality. We will return to this idea in a bit…
Levitt and Dubner explore the economic consequences of names. What do they really mean? Does Anna mean “graceful” or does it mean average? Does Jimmy really mean “supplanter” or is it a nickname for James, who is prestigious child bound to succeed? Does LaFonda mean “American foundation” or does it really translate to an uneducated African American? If two people had the exact same résumé for applying for a job who would get it; Jimmy or LaFonda?
Now, most of you probably quickly answered the question, then disregarded it and claimed you are not a racist. And that is exactly the point Levitt and Dubner are trying to prove. That names have more that just an impact on people’s lives than some may think. Jimmy may get the hold the briefcase, but LaFonda could be just as worthy.
So returning back to my name. My sister Sara so far has lived up to the stereotype my parents formed for us. But why is my idea of reality so different from theirs? I’m not going to be average even though my name represents my parents ideas. It looks like LaFonda and I have a lot in common.