December 23, 1997
IT'S MICHAEL AND JESSICA AGAIN
AT THE TOP OF MOST POPULAR NAMES LISTS
SPRINGFIELD, IL -- One thing for sure can be said of Illinois parents they know what they like in children's names. For the seventh consecutive year, Michael and Jessica top the list of most popular boy and girl names in Illinois.
In fact, a quick look into some old statistics for select years found Michael was the most popular name for boys even back in 1968. That would seemingly discount some theories that the popularity of Michael coincided with the arrival of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. While Michael was No. 1 in 1984, the year Jordan was drafted by the Bulls, back in 1968 Jordan was only five years old and decades away from leading the Bulls to five world championships (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997).
Jessica's stay at the top hasn't been quite as long as Michael's. Jessica was the most popular name for a girl in 1988, but only ranked 7th in 1978 and wasn't even in the top 10 in 1968. Jennifer was the most popular girl's name in 1978 and Lisa was tops in 1968.
The Illinois Department of Public Health began publishing a list of most popular names in 1990. While Michael and Jessica were still tops in 1996, there has been a decline in the numbers of children with those two names. For example, there were 3,502 boys named Michael in 1990 and just 2,112 in 1996. The trend has been the same with Jessica, falling from 2,117 in 1990 to 1,265 in 1995.
Between 1995 and 1996 there were few changes in the lists of top 10 names. Jacob moved up to 2nd on the boys' list from 4th in 1995, while Matthew dropped from 2nd to 3rd. There were no new names in the boys' top 10. Among the most popular names for girls, Ashley fell from second to third and Emily moved up from third to the runner-up spot behind Jessica. The only other major change in the list was Alexis moved to 8th from 14th.
The most popular names are part of the Department's report on 1996 vital statistics. The Department records about a half million vital record events each year -- births (183,079), deaths (105,701), marriages (91,187), divorces (40,729) and other statistics -- as mandated by state statutes and federal uniform data collection requirements.
Other vital statistics? How about the largest baby? 14 pounds, 11 1/4 ounces. The day most births occurred? September 17 (661). Fewest births? December 25 (285). Oldest mother? 54. Oldest father? 87.
The oldest groom? 99. Oldest bride? 86. The month for the most marriages? June (10,931). The month for the least number of marriages? January (3,919).
On what day did the most deaths occur? December 30 (369). The fewest deaths? May 21 (228). The oldest divorcee? A 94-year-old man (his first). The month with the most divorces? May (4,081). The least? November (2,860).
EDITORS NOTE: Click here for selected records and vital statistics trivia for 1996.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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