The Jennifer epidemic: How the spiking popularity of different baby names cycle like genetic drift

National Post

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There has never been a name like Jennifer.

Take your Liams, Olivias, Ethans, Emmas, Avas, Michaels, Williams and Christophers — none of them, not one, can match the Jennifer juggernaut.

Beginning in 1970, Jennifer was the top female baby name in the U.S., a position it would hold for a solid 14 years. The run was mirrored in Canada and, to a lesser extent, in the U.K. All before the Internet, before there was any readily available list of popular baby names from province-to-province or state-to-state.

Sure, lots of names drift in and out of popularity; but Jennifer was more than just a common baby name, it was a bona fide trend, a phenomenon. For a generation, it was almost impossible to walk into any grade-school classroom in North America without running into one — and probably two — girls named Jennifer, or Jenny or Jen.

“Jennifer is a…

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