You name it - how memory and delay govern first name dynamics

David A. Kessler, Yosi E. Maruvka, Jøergen Ouren, Nadav M. Shnerb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The adoption and abandonment of first names through time is a fascinating phenomenon that may shed light on social dynamics and the forces that determine cultural taste in general. Here we show that baby name dynamics is governed almost solely by deterministic forces, even though the emerging abundance statistics resembles the one obtained from a pure drift model. Exogenous events are shown to affect the name dynamics very rarely, and most of the year-to-year fluctuations around the deterministic trend may be attributed solely to demographic noise. We suggest that the rise and fall of a name reflect an "infection" process with delay and memory. The symmetry between adoption and abandonment speed emerges from our model without further assumptions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere38790
Pages (from-to)e38790
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - 20 Jun 2012


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