The Effects of Distinctively African American Names on Life Outcomes: Educational Attainment, Occupational Status, Income, and Longevity

Catalina Anampa Castro, University of Michigan
Tiffany Bui, University of Minnesota
Michael Huynh, University of Minnesota
Guilherme Paes dos Santos

We analyze the correlation between having a distinctively black name and life outcomes. We measure life outcomes according to educational attainment, occupation, income, and longevity. Our data sources are the U.S. Social Security Death Index and the 1920 and 1940 U.S. Censuses, which we use to conduct a sibling comparison analysis. Our research design allows us to isolate our dependent and independent variables from confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, race, family structure, social environment growing up, and surname. We measure the frequency of different given names to determine how distinctively black each name is. This measure is then compared to the variables that we use to determine life outcomes. Although Cook et al. (2016) have found a positive correlation between having a historical black name and increased longevity, the majority of previous studies have highlighted the negative effects of name-based racial discrimination. We hypothesize that children who are given more distinctively black names will experience lower levels of educational and occupational attainment, lower incomes, and reduced longevity.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 124. The Long-Term Impacts of Discrimination: Named-Based Evidence from Sibling Pair Analyses of Linked U.S. Census and Mortality Data