Alphabetism: The Effects of Surname Initial and the Cost of Being Otherwise Undistinguished
50 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 24, 2018
A small literature demonstrates that names are economically relevant. However, this is the first paper to examine the relationship between surname initial rank and male life outcomes, including human capital investments and labor market experiences. Surnames with initials farther from the beginning of the alphabet were associated with less distinction and satisfaction in high school, lower educational attainment, more military service and less attractive first jobs. These effects were concentrated among men who were undistinguished by cognitive ability or appearance, and, for them, may have persisted into middle age. They suggest that ordering is important and that over-reliance on alphabetical orderings can be harmful.
Keywords: alphabetism, surname initial, rank effects, ordered search, anthroponomastics, socio-onomastics
JEL Classification: D63, I31, J19, J71
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation