Entry 548: What’s in a Na

A study conducted by TheLadders.com has revealed that, in general, people with shorter names earn more money.

With a name like Mark, I should be receiving my windfall any day now.

Seriously, the study says that people with shorter names make, on average, $7,000 more a year than people with longer names. What’s more, for each letter you add, you lose about $3,600 a year in earnings. Which, I may say, should make my niece, Errin, really angry at my brother- and sister-in-law.

TheLadders.com did this study by analyzing its 6,000,000-name membership. Now, since TheLadders.com is a job-seekers website, it’s difficult to imagine what an analysis of its members would reveal about salaries, considering that, by definition, its members are either out of work or looking for higher-paying jobs.

But let’s take the results at face value. My first reaction was “Is it letters, or is it really syllables?” Put another way, do employers care more about how long it takes a name to say, or how long it takes to fill out a form?

If I was an employer, I’d be more interested in saving time every time I called my employee to take the blame for something I screwed up. My efficiency expert, Bo, tells me that if I hire Jebediah over Tom, it will sap a half a second of productivity every time I have to tell the CEO of the company how Jebediah misplaced the decimal point on my quarterly report, unless I call him Jeb, in which case it will waste even more time because there’s already a Jed in my department, so the CEO will be like, “Did you say Jeb or Jed?” “Jeb.” “Well you really should call him Jebediah so I don’t get confused.” Of course, if there’s already a Tom in my department, it might be a wash, because I’d have to waste time calling the new Tom Thomas, or Tommy, or Tom C., which would be odd, since his last name is Goldberg.

Where was I?

Right, short names. So, anyway, the top five earning men’s name are Tom, Rob, Doug, Dale and Wayne, which would seem to bear out both the letter theory and my syllable theory. Except that, for women, the top five names are Lynn, Cathy, Melissa, Christine and Dana, which kind of blows up everything, not to mention that Melissa, instead of complaining about how much less women make than men, should be complaining about why she makes $10,800 less than Lynn?*

Like many studies, this one doesn’t try to explain its results. But I thought I would. Here’s the explanation:

The study is stupid.

Um, let’s see…could there be something that would make it seem like the length of a person’s name makes a difference, but it’s really another factor? What else could cause an income disparity between two people of the same gender who do the same job?

How about ethnicity?

African-American men earn 24.9% less than their white counterparts and Hispanic men earn 32.8% less. Black women earn 17.9% less than white women, and Hispanic women earn 30.7% less.

What does that have to do with the whole name thing? Of the top 30 most popular African-American male names and the top 30 African-American female names, only one–James-was one syllable.** Same for Hispanic names…just Juan.

Perhaps more importantly, 23 of the top 30 Hispanic male names and 24 of the top 30 female names are obviously Hispanic, or at least foreign-sounding. And names for female African-American babies have a much higher propensity to be, well, for lack of a better term, “black-sounding”; parents who name their daughters Aaliyah (the most popular name) or Makayla (#25) or Nevaeh (#26) probably aren’t doing them any favors.

The unfortunate truth is that it probably isn’t short names that earn more, it’s white ones.

UntitledOf course, if you really want to hold down your offspring’s earnings (no matter what race or gender), just make sure they’re fat or short. Really.

In other words, I’ll just bet that Caitlin, who bears a striking resemblance to Kate Upton, earns more than Lucia for the same job, even if Lucía looks like Penélope Cruz, but especially if Lucía looks like Ted Cruz.

And neither of them are likely to earn as much as Original Tom, as I’ve decided to call himNEW_YORK_JETS_D_BRICKASHAW_FERGUSON_DECAL_WINDOW_CLING[1] now that Tom Goldberg is on board.

Also, it’s a good thing D’Brickashaw Ferguson was a pretty decent football player.

See you soon.

*Three letters at $3,600 each, in case you didn’t follow the math.
**Although, in fairness, around 1/3 of them could be shortened, like Nate for Nathan.

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