<
 
 
 
 
×
>
You are viewing an archived web page captured at 14:01:06 Mar 14, 2021, which is part of the National Records of Scotland Web Archive. The information on this web page may be out of date. See all captures of this archived page. Archived web pages you visit here may leave cookies in your browser. These are not owned, controlled, or used by NRS. NRS do use cookies, including Google Analytics, to monitor site usage and performance. These can be managed in your browser settings. Find out more about cookies.
Loading media information
hide

National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Names Given To Both Sexes

Names Given To Both Sexes

The sections of this note:

  • show that most babies’ first forenames were very strongly associated with one sex;
  • provide examples of names which were the first forenames for totals of at least 50 babies of each sex; and
  • look at whether the balance between the sexes changes over time. 

Most names very strongly associated with one sex

Only a small proportion of first forenames have been given to many babies of both sexes. At the time of writing (March 2019), full lists of babies’ first names were available for each year from 1974 to 2018. In that period, a total of 63,082 different first forenames were given to babies whose births were registered in Scotland. 

Most of those names were very strongly associated with only one sex: for the vast majority of names (59,718: almost 95% of them), at least 99% of the children with that particular first forename were of one sex.  For example:

  • 40,201 babies were given David as their first forename, only 14 of whom have their sex shown as female in the National Records of Scotland (NRS) birth statistics database;
  • 33,886 were called James, only 12 of whom appear to be girls;
  • 23,672 had Emma as their first forename, only 6 of whom appear to be boys; 
  • 21,157 were called Laura, only 8 of whom appear to be boys; and
  • no boys were called Sue. 

In some of the apparently unusual cases, NRS’s statistical database could have an incorrect code for a baby’s sex. All the data for the earlier years were keyed into the computer from paper forms which were completed manually by registration office staff (rather than being copied electronically from the official record of the registration of the birth) and so might not be as reliable as the information that appears on the child’s birth certificate. However, based on the above numbers, the code for sex in NRS’s statistical database is wrong in at most only a very small fraction of one percent of cases: if all “female Davids” are errors, the error rate would be only 0.03% (14 out of 40,201), and the error rates for the other names would be 0.04% (James), 0.03% (Emma) and 0.04% (Laura).

Most babies were given first forenames that were very strongly associated with one sex. Over 2.7 million births were registered in Scotland in the period for which figures were available, and the first forename of almost 91% of them was a name for which at least 99% of the babies given that first forename were of the same sex.

The above figures include children who were given first forenames that were unique in the period, such as individual variant spellings of traditional names. By definition, in each such case, “100%” of the babies were of the same sex (as “1 out of 1” is “100%”). In order to show the picture for the names which were more often given to babies, we consider only first forenames which were given to at least 100 babies. That produces the following results:

  • 1,565 different first forenames were given to at least 100 babies;
  • most of these names were very strongly associated with only one sex: for 1,268 of those names (81%) at least 99% of the babies were of one sex;
  • almost 2.5 million babies had, as their the first forenames, names that were given to at least 100 babies;
  • about 92% of those babies had a first forename for which at least 99% of its babies were of the same sex.

Relatively few of the names that were given to at least 100 babies were ones that were not strongly associated with one sex. There were just 18 names (given to at least 100 babies) for which the numbers of babies were fairly evenly split between the sexes, in the sense that the “main” sex for the name (i.e. the sex of most of the babies with that first forename) accounted for between 50% and 59.99% of all babies with that name. There were also 20 names (with 100+ babies) for which the “main” sex accounted for 60 to 69.99% of the babies, and 19 for which the “main” sex accounted for 70 to 79.99%. In total, 57 or just 3.6% of the names (with 100+ babies) had a balance between the sexes that was in the range 50:50 to just under 80:20. In terms of the number of babies, just over 1% were given a first forename for which the “main” sex accounted for between 50% and 79.99% of all babies with that name. 

Names given to both 50+ boys and 50+ girls

Table 1 (available via the links below) shows the names which were the first forenames for totals of at least 50 babies of each sex whose births were registered in the period for which figures were available. The thresholds of at least 50 babies of each sex ensure that the main findings should not be affected much by any occasional cases of incorrect sex codes in the statistical database.

Excel    CSV     PDF

There were 71 such names. In some cases, one sex accounted for the overwhelming majority of babies with that as their first forename. For example, in the period covered by these figures, the following first forenames were much more often given to babies of one particular sex:

  • Ashley - 96% girls (it was the first forename of 5,758 girls and 260 boys);
  • Cameron - 99% boys (it was the first forename of 12,497 boys and 164 girls);
  • Jamie - 95% boys (it was the first forename of 16,505 boys and 795 girls);
  • Lindsay - 92% girls (it was the first forename of 2,805 girls and 243 boys). 

There were names for which most of the babies with that first forename were of one sex, but a large minority were of the other sex. For example, in the period covered by these figures, roughly two-thirds of babies with the following first forenames were of one sex:

  • Alex - 64% boys (it was the first forename of 1,628 boys and 904 girls);
  • Devon - 61% girls (it was the first forename of 204 girls and 128 boys);
  • Frankie - 67% boys (it was the first forename of 404 boys and 202 girls);
  • Rowan - 64% girls (it was the first forename of 1,004 girls and 558 boys).

There were also cases where the numbers with a certain first forename were fairly evenly split between the sexes. For example, in total over the period covered by these figures, the following first forenames were given to broadly similar numbers of babies of each sex:

  • Ellis - 52% girls (it was the first forename of 820 girls and 766 boys);
  • Jan - 51% boys (it was the first forename of 314 boys and 300 girls);
  • Quinn - 54% girls (it was the first forename of 304 girls and 256 boys);
  • Taylor - 54% girls (it was the first forename of 2,197 girls and 1,865 boys).

Whether the balance between the sexes changes over time

For a particular name, the balance between the sexes could change over time.  Table 2, which is available via the links below, shows how many babies were given certain first forenames at different times within the period for which figures are available.  In order to avoid “over-analysis” of names with “small” numbers, this table shows only names which were given, as the baby’s first forename, to totals of at least 150 babies of each sex: there were 32 such names.

Excel    CSV     PDF

It will be seen that, for many names, the split between the sexes did not change much, if at all, over the period covered by these figures.  For example, throughout the period, girls accounted for the overwhelming majority of the babies whose first forename was Ashley, and boys for almost all the babies who were called Cameron. 

However, in some cases, the balance between the sexes changed markedly over the period for which figures are available.  For example:

  • Alex
    • almost all boys at first  (e.g. 49 boys and 1 girl in 1980-84);
    • changed to almost 50:50 (e.g. 248 boys and 239 girls in 2000-04);
    • now back to mainly boys (e.g. 265 boys and 66 girls in 2015-18);
  • Ellis
    • mainly girls, when it first became popular (97 girls and 31 boys in 1990-94);
    • now mainly boys (e.g. 190 boys and 108 girls in 2015-18);  
  • Jan
    • mainly girls at first (e.g. 115 girls and 25 boys in 1975-79);
    • now all boys (e.g. 88 boys and no girls in 2015-18);
  • Lee
    • mainly boys at first (e.g. 1,004 boys and 773 girls in 1975-79);
    • almost all boys since the early 1990s  (e.g. 1,242 boys and 64 girls in 1990-94);
  • Morgan
    • all boys at first (e.g. 26 boys and no girls in 1975-79);
    • mainly girls since the mid-1980s (e.g. 1,041 girls and 210 boys in 2000-04);

Brogan, Brooklyn, Charlie, Cody, Harley, Jay, Kenzie and Tyler are some of the other first forenames for which the balance between the sexes has changed over the period for which figures are available. 

All statistical publications