given name distribution similar across social classes in medieval England

The Norman Conquest of 1063 transformed English given names from Anglo-Saxon names to Norman names within a few generations across the whole English population.  That’s an amazingly rapid and comprehensive shift in the symbolic economy of a largely pre-literate society.  This name transformation was not the result of a central, authoritative, or coercive order.  It seems to have been simply the product of communication through various social networks.

The Fine Rolls of King Henry III of England, 1216-1242, provide some indirect evidence on the encompassing nature of these social networks. The shares of named males and females with given names among the ten most popular given names in the Fine Rolls were 58% and 52%, respectively.  Assuming an average age of 40 for the named persons, the Fine Rolls names have roughly a representative birth year of 1190.  Since the Fine Rolls concern persons purchasing from the king various rights and privileges, the names in the Fine Rolls are likely to be of persons with higher social status that persons reported in other tax and census documents.

The Fine Rolls name distributions are similar to those found in approximately contemporaneous, lower-social-status collections of names.  Male names in the Winchester Doomsday Book associated with a birth year roughly about 1180 had a top-10 share of 57%.  Male and female names in the Essex Fleet of Fines associated with a birth year roughly about 1200 had a top-10 shares of 61% and 56%, respectively.  A collection of names from records of manorial tenants in southern England with a reference birth year about 1210 has male and female top-10 shares of 65% and 70%, respectively.  Naming patterns in England across the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were trending toward greater concentration of names.  The persons in the Winchester, Essex, and southern manorial name collections surely had on average lower social status than those in the Fine Rolls.  But they weren’t backward in keeping up with naming fashions.

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Data: Fine Rolls given names, 1216-1242

The Henry III Fine Rolls Project provides ready access and a wealth of information about rolls.  The name compilations come from Project posts on female given names and male given names.  An additional post provides females names for 1242 to 1248, but this compilation may not record all additional instances of names found earlier in the rolls for 1216 to 1242.

Needle, a fantastic new data tool, made it easy to collect and analyze these names and frequencies.

The comparative name data are from Galbi, Douglas (2002), Long-Term Trends in Personal Given Name Frequencies in the UK, Table 2.  Follow the references there for source documentation.  See the Given Name Frequency Project for more information on given name frequencies.

contrasting business strategies of Apple and Canon

Apple started at the sumptuous end of the smartphone market and has moved down table.  Canon users, in contrast, have been firing bigger, more expensive Canons.  Canon users on flickr have shifted from 37% DSLR / 63% point-and-shoot in November, 2006 to 71% DSLR / 29% point-and-shoot in April, 2011.

Apple entices customers with one new iPhone model once a year, or longer.[*]  Canon, in contrast, fires out a barrage of camera models.  Among Canon cameras used on flicker, about 65 new Canon models have appear over the past two and a half years.

The new iPhone model seduces a large share of users of previous iPhone models.  Canon models seem to stay in use longer.  Consider the flickr Camera Finder data for April, 2011.  The report for Apple doesn’t include a separate line for the original iPhone that was released at the end of June, 2007. The iPhone 3G, which was released in July, 2008, has 3,406 users.  That figure probably includes original iPhone users.  The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, released in Aug. 2006, has 3,171 users.  The Canon model with the most users, the EOS Digital Rebel XSi, has about 4,000 users, as does the iPhone 4.  The EOS Digital Rebel XSi was introduced in January, 2008.  The iPhone 4, in contrast, was introduced about two and half years later.

Apple is one company producing smartphones with proprietary software.  Many vendors are producing smartphones on a rapid development cycle using Android, an open-source operating system.  The differences between Apple and the Android industry and between proprietary software and open-source software are significant.  But as the contrasts between Apple and Canon illustrate, even as a single company building devices with proprietary software, Apple’s business strategy is distinctive.

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Data: Apple and Canon user growth among flickr users (Excel version)

[*] The iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4 came on market from 2007 to 2010 with yearly introductions about the end of June.  The iPhone 5 reportedly will not be on the market until the fall of 2011.

sex discrimination in child custody and child support

In child custody and child support administration, stereotype-based beliefs about the allocation of family responsibilities are both firmly rooted and largely unquestioned.  Suppose some desirable job involved much out-of-town travel.  Suppose, in hiring for that job, an employer discriminated in favor of fathers and against mothers, on the grounds that the best interests of the children favored mothers not doing extensive, out-of-town travel.  The employer most likely would be in violation of sex discrimination laws and subject to a costly legal judgment.  In contrast, “the best interests of the child” pretends to rationalize huge gender inequalities in state-awarded child custody and child support.

Sex inequalities in child custody and child support are about an order of magnitude larger than widely discussed sex inequalities in the labor force. From 1993 to 2007, about five mothers had child custody for every father with child custody.  Across that same period, about eight mothers were awarded child support for every father awarded child support. Among parents under a child support agreement, fourteen times more mothers received physical custody than did fathers.

Gender inequalities in labor force participation, in contrast, are much smaller.  Among parents ages 25 to 49 living with at least one own-child, three mothers worked full-time for every four fathers that did.  Among parents of those ages living with at least one own-child under age five, one mother worked full-time for every two fathers that did. Motherhood matters much less in the workforce than in courtrooms making child-custody or child-support decisions.

Most persons value their children more than their jobs.  Even if sex inequalities in child custody and child support were similar to sex inequalities in the labor force, the former sex inequalities would be more damaging than the latter.

Family-court substantive and procedural law should consider the actual sex bias in the administration of child custody and child support.  Men lack reproductive rights comparable to those that women have in U.S. constitutional law and in statutory laws governing child-birth registration, giving up a child for adoption, and safe-havens that allow a mother to give up a newborn safely, legally, and anonymously.  Sex inequalities in child-custody and child-support administration exacerbate sex inequalities in reproductive rights.

Child-support enforcement keeps roughly 50,000 persons in jail or in prison in the U.S. on any given day. Almost surely among those prisoners men outnumber women by eight to one or more.  Sex inequalities in child custody and child support are closely related to that sex inequality in punishment.[*]

Nothing is more important to most persons than their freedom and their children. State action deprives men of their freedom and their children with gross anti-men sex bias. Imprisonment and child-custody awards are the most significant areas of gender inequality today. Those areas deserve priority in promoting gender equality.

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Read more:

Data: custodial parents, parents awarded child-support, and labor-force participation by sex, 1993-2007 (Excel version)


[*] In Turner v. Rogers, the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether an indigent child-support obligor is entitled to a state-provided lawyer in a proceeding that will determine whether the obligor will be imprisoned. Turner v. Rogers is directly about the right to counsel.  However, sex inequalities in reproductive rights and in child-custody and child-support administration place Turner v. Rogers within an extraordinary but unquestioned field of unequal protection under law.