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Data journalists take a break from ‘grim’ Covid stats to investigate baby names

Lesley-Anne KellyData journalists gave themselves some relief from examining “grim” coronavirus statistics by investigating baby naming trends.

DC Thomson’s data unit has examined almost 50 years’ worth of baby names by looking at the National Records for Scotland.

The resulting investigation has revealed how naming trends have changed across Scotland and looked at whether popular culture over the years has had any impact on parents’ decisions.

David and Emma were found to have been the most popular names registered overall between 1974 and 2020.

The investigation also looked at how royalty affects naming trends, as well as other aspects of the subject including babies named after celebrities and alcoholic drinks.

The probe has been presented online using ‘scrollytelling’, a term that describes online long-form stories complemented by audio, video, animation effects and other graphics.

Lesley-Anne Kelly, DC Thomson data content lead, told HTFP: “The annual baby name dataset always garners a lot of media attention, but none of it ever really scratches beneath the surface of the wealth of interesting stories and trends that are there for the taking.

“We’ve all spent the last few years looking at pretty grim data on Covid-19 so now seems like the perfect time to dive into something more fun.

“The first part in our series on (almost) fifty years of Scottish baby names starts to tease out some of the key trends with lighthearted charts and ‘scrollytelling’.”

The project involved analysing all the baby name data from National Records for Scotland going back to 1974.

Lesley-Anne added: “We then looked for anomalies and patterns in the data and compared against pop culture trends or matched against other datasets – for example matching the name dataset against a file containing worldwide locations.

“We’ll be following up in the coming weeks with a new article every few days covering everything anyone could possibly ever want to about Scottish naming trends.

“Whichever way you look at the data the takeaway is that parents are looking for more and more unique names, which is leading to the decline and potentially the extinction of many traditional names.”