These Are the Most Successful Baby Names, According to Science

There are so many things to consider when picking a baby name. Obviously, you want it to sound good. It has to sort of meld with your last name, and a good middle name is also a plus. We think about how it’ll work when they’re kids, but also how it’ll play out as grown-ups. Kids can get away with pretty much any name in the book, but when an adult introduces themselves as Princess, it can be a little weird. As it turns out, a baby name can be an indicator of future success. In other words, kids with certain names are more likely to be successful as adults. Here are the most successful baby names, according to science. Maybe put a couple on your list, just in case!

Researchers have been looking for a link between baby names and future success for a while. And the studies have produced some pretty interesting results!

One study, conducted by Verdant Labs, looked at public records to find common names by profession. The study didn’t take into account earnings, but the jobs themselves can be viewed as a kind of “success barometer”. Obviously, it’s not as exact science; lawyer is a typically successful and lucrative profession, but just because someone is a lawyer doesn’t mean they’re successful at it. Lawyers get disbarred and run afoul of the law all the time (hey Michael Cohen, lookin’ at you!).

Another study from UCLA studied names that “leverage other people’s biases“. Certain names are more likely to “make other people respect them at first meeting, and assume that they are successful, throughout their lives.” Those biases can, in theory, lead to more opportunities and greater success.

So what ARE the most successful baby names? Some of them aren’t exactly surprising. Take Steven, for example.

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Steven is actually at the top of the list for successful boy names, according to the UCLA study. And it’s not hard to see why: Steve Jobs, Steven Tyler, Steve Carell, Stephen Hawking … it has some serious power.


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Jacqueline tops the same UCLA list for girls. The Jacqueline Onassis effect is real, and it will very likely go on forever. Arguably, Jackie O’s success was a result of who she married (girl married well!).


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This one was a bit surprising! And I say this as someone with an unhealthy fixation on Peter Dinklage. But an analysis by LinkedIn¬†showed that the #1 male name for CEO’s on their site was Peter. Go figure!


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Another one that shocked me a little. My own mom’s name is Deborah! That same LinkedIn analysis found that Deborah was the most common name among female CEO’s on the site.

Ross (LOL)

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Ross Geller is the extent of my experience with the name Ross. And honestly, it is because of that fictional character that I would never in a million years consider the name Ross for my kid. But Ross came in second on the UCLA study.

Morgan (female variation)

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This one REALLY surprised me. All of the successful Morgans I can recall (with the exception of Morgan Fairchild) are male. But it came it second on the UCLA list for successful baby names for girls. Maybe it’s the mythological roots?

Sanford (um, okay?)

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That Verdant study that looked at names and professions found that the name Sanford is common in two typically successful professions: surgeon and judge.


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DUH. She’s the freaking Queen of England. I’m just surprised it’s not #1.

So, when you’re scouring the internet and books for baby names, maybe keep a few of these in mind! No harm in trying to set your kid up for success while they’re still in utero.

(Image: iStock )

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