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Subject: more on same article topic (?)
Author: chazda   (Authenticated as chazda)
Date: October 18, 2004 at 10:36:56 PM
Reply to: Re: New article by chazda
Well, for whatever it's worth to anyone... since I was inspired to look up the subject, I found one interesting article, but it's in an economic journal and they want five dollars for the .pdf file.

I was able to download it free because my university subscribes. For anyone who's a student, you can find out in a few seconds whether or not you can get it. I don't know if the journal would allow a reprint on the site, but it doesn't seem likely since they have the subscription thing. Besides, it's loooong and has big figures and mathematical equations and boring stuff.

Here's the URL for the abstract:
http://www.nber.org/papers/w9938
Click on the "info for those expecting no-cost downloads" link, enter your university email, and it replies automatically.

My quickie attempt at a summary of their conclusions that are relevant to Fikes's article:
Black names have in fact been getting more 'unique' and have become a more different set of names from what whites use; 'blackness' of a name is correlated with bearer's/mother's segregation and socioeconomic status, and increasingly so since the 60s; 'blackness' of a name has no significant effect on life outcomes, when you control for factors present at birth... they argue that employer discrimination based on names on a resume has no demonstrable material effect. They discuss several theories of why people use 'black' names and then see if they support the data; the most consistent theory is simply that the names represent self-identification (not necessarily signaling to others) as black (as opposed to a trade-off of costs and benefits of a black name, or ignorance about the costs).

Basically they're saying that their data suggest the increasing unusualness of names used by black parents is correlated to cultural change (they don't explicitly say change of what nature) that has occurred since the civil rights movement, and that the names' relation to socioeconomic status appears to be as a result of it -- not likely a cause, as many assume.

Not all that satisfying, is it? I'm not bored yet with trying to understand what someone who gives or bears a name like Lottery or Sirloin really thinks, and if there's any parallel to it, anywhere in all of naming history. I think it's more interesting than just, "Omigod that's so cruel!!!!!"

- chazda

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This message was edited by the author on October 18, 2004 at 10:39:35 PM

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