Here's what your name says about your future prospects

Nov 20, 2013

Credit Alan O'Rourke / Flickr

Researchers have done all kinds of experiments to learn how our names can impact perceptions. If the research is to be believed, for some people creating a new identity other than the one given at birth might be a good idea.

The University of Chicago Business School and the National Bureau of Economic Research, for example, conducted a study that compared responses to identical resumes. The only difference was that some resumes were from applicants with African American sounding names and others had White sounding names.

Usually, the research shows, for names that indicate racial background or socioeconomic class the outcomes are worse than for those with names considered status quo. 

This week on State of Opportunity, Jennifer Guerra takes us to an earlier stage and asks what names mean for determining a child's socioeconomic destiny. She talks with Dave Filgio of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University about his research into names and what they tell us about class.

Two million Florida birth certificates and one algorithm later, can he predict whether the child was born to a mom who was poorly educated or not? And, if he can make that prediction, what's the impact on how teachers treat kids and how judges deal with the kids in who come before them in their courtrooms? Find out on this week's State of Opportunity feature