Beware of naming your boy Sonny or Benny
Men named Conny, Benny or Sonny are at a greater risk of going to jail. They are also more likely to live in low-status areas, according to a new study by Erik Segerborg and Mikael Söderström at Handelshögskolan (Stockholm School of Economics).
“We found a connection between having a so-called y-name to being in the charge of correctional treatment,” says Segerborg, who with Söderström wrote the thesis “Pride and prejudice: The Y-name syndrome.” In this thesis they examine the common view that certain names are more connected with crime and low socio-economical status than others.
“This phenomenon has been discussed over coffee and online for years. It’s only now that it’s been looked at more scientifically,” explains Sergerborg. Compared to the most common Swedish names, like Mikael, Per and Stefan, people with names ending in with a “y” run a 2½ times higher risk at getting onto the register of correctional treatment. Add to that a statistical connection between many y-names in a municipality and a long row of negative socio-economical factors.
Segerborg believes that one possible reason for why men with names like Conny and Benny more often end up in crime might be that they come from low-status backgrounds to begin with. Meaning their parents might have less education or money or are unemployed. Another possibility is that since there are already preconceived notions about these names, if you’re name is Conny or Benny you might subconsciously limit yourself in life. These names were popular in Sweden in the decades before and after WW2. When they were still common among schoolchildren, teachers usually referred to them as “busungar,” rascals.
Ronny Ambjörnsson, former Professor of History of Ideas at Umeå University wrote a book called “Mitt förnamn är Ronny” (My first name is Ronny) about his own journey through classes: From his working home to receiving the title of professor and how his name has made him who he is.