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When It Comes To A Person's Age, What's In A Name?

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- If nothing else, the following information will make you feel less awkward when trying to guess a person's age or perhaps provide some interesting cocktail party conversation.

Armed with a bit of data, it just might be easier to guess that a woman named Dorothy is in her 60s or 70s.

Nate Silver and Allison McCann took a look at Social Security data to determine the typical age range for names.

They noted significant differences between men and women.

Women's names follow generational trends, meaning they are more fashionable or trendy at the time they were born.

For example, do you know many grown women named Hailey or Madison?

However, it's likely you know a grade-school girl with that name.

Men's names tend to stand the test of time.

Consider the name Joseph.

Everybody knows somebody named Joe. In fact, you probably know a child Joe and a grandpa Joe.

The "average Joe" is in his middle 30s, but the age range extends farther than any other male name, according to the data.

Overall, the age range for popular men's names is wider than those for women.

That further supports the idea that women's names change with the times.

If you are an Ashley, you are likely to be in high school or college.

If you are an Anthony, you could be a recent college graduate or getting ready to send your kids to college.

(Credit: Five-Thirty Eight)
(Credit: Five Thirty Eight)

Silver and McMann also developed a list of "deadest names."

More than 88 percent of women named Mabel, Gertrude and Myrtle are dead.

For men, it's Elmer (79 percent dead), Clarence (71.3 percent) and Harry (70.8 percent).

To check other names, you can go to the Social Security website.

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