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Swedish study links names to criminality

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 12 Oct 2011, 12:18

Published: 12 Oct 2011 12:18 GMT+02:00

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"We find that the y-name syndrome is empirically grounded; men with y-names are more likely to live in municipalities characterized by indicators of low socio-economic status and are over-represented among criminals," Erik Segerborg and Mikael Söderström write in their master's thesis presented at the Stockholm School of Economics.

The "y-name" syndrome is a commonly held notion in Sweden that associates men with names such as Sonny, Benny, Conny or Ronny with low socio-economic status.

Segerborg and Söderström's thesis explores whether there is any empirical evidence to support this notion and studies 26 municipalities in Sweden.

It furthermore looks at the "prevalence of y-names among men who are, or have been in custody of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service" to see if there is any over-representation in practice.

The pair find that there is empirical evidence to back up both hypotheses and establish that there is a link between the names and both socio-economic status and criminality.

The study is however unable to offer any conclusions to explain why this may be the case.

An investigation into whether men with "y-names" suffer discrimination in the labour market by studying how 846 Swedish adults rated an employment résumé was unable to offer any conclusive evidence.

Story continues below…

Erik Segerborg explained in an interview with the Dagens Nyheter daily on Tuesday that further study on two identical groups who differ only in name, would be needed to understand the criminal connection.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:50 October 12, 2011 by draco_chile
awful use of the statistics!
14:39 October 12, 2011 by Mr G
The people who commissioned and did this report should be sent back to school. You can find patterns in anything if you want to. It's the equivalent of saying that the most popular colour worn by criminals is blue. Soon society avoids that colour just as now no one in the right mind would call their son Conny.
14:50 October 12, 2011 by thinkright24
wow 'swedish study' . oh study end with 'y' .
14:59 October 12, 2011 by lurker
This isn't really very surprising. Some names are indicators of social class, and there is a correlation between social class and criminality... Shows that Sweden isn't the classless society that some people believe it to be, though.
15:11 October 12, 2011 by Abe L
What lurker says.

These studies have been done in various countries and always prove just that.
15:26 October 12, 2011 by andyron2
ending with Y for criminality.The new swedish study made a wonderful discovery.....easy to catch criminals among the suspects then.wonder wat the new study says where the name ends with SON.
15:28 October 12, 2011 by Svensksmith
What about a boy named Sue?
15:31 October 12, 2011 by Åskar
This is old knowledge. What's new is that somebody has taken time to verify it.
15:38 October 12, 2011 by Grokh
maybe only ignorant people that live in bad places like those corny names , so its not really the name but the bad education and area they live in ?
15:52 October 12, 2011 by Tanskalainen
That's why I named my boys Donner and Blitzen.
17:18 October 12, 2011 by jacquelinee
This is really interestng. I wonder what their research would have proven if Erik Segerborg's parents had called him "Riky" or Mikael Söderström's parents had had pet named him "Mikey", or even what the article would have said if Peter Vindhagen Simpson's Parents had lovingly called him "Petey"? What a load of bunk! I would jove to see the actual research, I can only imagine how "thorough" and well researched it actually is.
17:32 October 12, 2011 by Nilspet
How about Jimmy? Snoopy?
18:11 October 12, 2011 by sliver
Maybe all names ending with a "T" will have becoming Prime Minister as an ambition.
20:18 October 12, 2011 by t64
Finally we can do some proactive crime prevention. Jail 'em before they harm someone. I've done my own study and discovered that 95% of criminals were given male sounding names.
20:20 October 12, 2011 by Tysknaden
Games with statistics. You can relate everything to everything else. Worthless.
23:09 October 12, 2011 by diegoveggie
oh thats funnY
07:45 October 13, 2011 by Frank Arbach
The b@st@rds, the bloody b@st@ards!! The next person who calls me FrankY is going to pay for suggesting I might be a criminal..

Seriously, studies into the effects of "low socio-economic status" are hardly new - you'd have thought they could find something better to do with their time
08:16 October 13, 2011 by Lavaux
The link is correlative, not causative. Low socio-economic status correlates with crime because economic achievement and law abiding require character traits commonly lacking among those who live on the dole and criminals, respectively. Since character is taught to children by parents, parents lacking character will raise children without character, and the cycle will proceed another generation.
09:01 October 13, 2011 by Douglas Garner
I am with Jacqueline and Lavaux. Many people have pet names ending in "Y" or "IE". Does the study consider if this is the proper first name or pet name?

Now the kids will begin to wonder about MommY and DaddY! And then there is the dreadful kittY and puppY... or worse yet, nannY or babY!!!
12:26 October 13, 2011 by Åskar
@Douglas Garner, Jacqueline et al

Being non-Swedes you are quite clueless about this. Around WW2 many working class Swedish boys were named Conny, Ronny, Sonny, Tommy, Jimmy and other American sounding names as proper forenames, not pet names. In my opinion these names are distinctive class markers. It would also not come as a surprise that people with low social status are more likely to become criminals, which is what this study has found.

And the leader of the racist Sweden Democrats is called Jimmie.
12:39 October 13, 2011 by AW_S
sweden is a really strange country :D social democrats are real evil!
15:23 October 13, 2011 by cogito
This drivel passes as a master's thesis at the School of Economics?

15:32 October 13, 2011 by jacquelinee
It is still crap!

The only difference between the prevalence of "criminality" of people with low social status and that of those with higher social staus is the visibility of it. If "Riky" Svensson the general worker gets busted stealing from an ICA or a gas station etc. he is most likely going to be prosecuted and he will be on the record. If Erik Svensson 3rd the corporate exec. or government official robs investors or taxpayers of millions, he pays a brilliant lawyer who cuts him a deal, a plea bargain (or some kind of "payoff") that keeps it "off the books", goes back to his cushy job and it is all good.

Everything is relative to what you are comparing it to. The only reason (if there REALLY is any truth to this bunk at all) that it appears Riky is a bigger criminal that Erik is that his "socio-economic status" puts him in the unfortuante position of not being able to PAY someone to cover his crime up and sweep it under the rug.
15:25 October 14, 2011 by tadchem
The authors of this alleged stud-Y are Erik ("Rikky") Segerborg and Mikael ("Mikey") Söderström.
20:51 October 14, 2011 by Investor612
I've noticed the same thing here in the US. The names Lemarcus, Demetrius, Shalakwa, Tanisha, Marquis, Jose, Ramon, Pedro and so on dominate the crime stats. Must be the names.
15:55 October 15, 2011 by Svensksmith
Those are just the low level criminals. The real elite law breakers have names like: George, Barak, Joseph, Nancy, Hilary, etc.
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