If parents of black children want them to live longer, they might consider naming them Elijah or Moses, according to a new study.
Typically, the more identifiable someone's race is, the more racism they'll face. Several studies have found that resumes contain "white-sounding" names are more likely to lead to interviews than identical ones with "black-sounding" ones.
But according to a new study in Explorations in Economic History, having a historically black name can actually present one advantage: a longer life.
Researchers from the University of Michigan analyzed three million death certificates from 1802 to 1970 in Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. They identified a number of names given disproportionately to black men, particularly in the early 1900s, including Abraham, Booker, and Isaac.
According to their death certificates, these men tended to live about a year longer than black men with more racially ambiguous names.
Lead author Lisa D. Cook said in a press release that since many of these names sound Biblical and therefore distinguished, these men could have been more highly regarded and held up to higher standards throughout their lives, starting in their school years.
“I think the teachers in these one-room schoolhouses—teachers who also taught Sunday school—probably placed implicit expectations on students with these distinctive names,” she said. “And I think that gave them a status that they otherwise would not have had.”
Cook did not immediately respond to NTRSCTN's request for comment.