Choosing your baby’s name can be a difficult business. Many things have to be taken into consideration: those crucial first name/surname combinations, meanings and possible nicknames, as well as family traditions. But how important is your child’s name in determining their future success?

Gregory Clark, an economist and author of The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, examined the first names of 14, 449 students at the University of Oxford between 2008-2013. He found that, relative to the general population, people with names such as Peter, Kathrine and Elizabeth are more likely to go to Oxford than people named Shane, Shannon or Paige.

This discrepancy, however, may have more to with the different ambitions and opportunities of particular social classes than with the names themselves.

Some researchers have suggested that uncommon first names might improve life success in areas other than education. Richard Zweigenhaft, a psychologist at Guilford College, found that unusually-named wealthy Americans were more likely to appear on the elite Who’s Who list.

Dalton Conley, a sociologist at New York University, said that unusual names can even have a positive effect on children. “They actually benefit from [getting teased and questioned about their name] by learning to control their emotions or their impulses, which is of course a great skill for success.”

Dalton’s own daughter, named E, seems glad to have an uncommon first name. “It’s just cool that people, especially my friends, will never look at the letter E in the same way again,” she says.

But what is your opinion on unusual first names? Do you prefer Mykel to Michael? Or are you glad that you chose a more traditional name? Please share your views by commenting below.

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