What should we call our kids? Choosing children's surnames when parents' last names differ

David R. Johnson, Laurie K. Scheuble

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We examine the last and middle names given to first-born sons and daughters in a sample of 600 married women selected from the staff directory of a university system. Women with unconventional marital surnames were more likely to include their birth surname in their child's name than were women who took their husband's last name at marriage. Around 90% of women with an unconventional marital surname still gave their children their husband's surname. Among women who selected an unconventional last name, a number of variables correlated with whether or not the child's name contained the mother's birth surname, including type of last name used, gender role attitudes, political liberalism, religiosity, importance of last name to the woman's self-concept, feminist motivations for the woman's last name choice, and education of the mother and her husband. Logistic regression analysis found that self-identification on political liberalness and husband's education were the most powerful predictors, reducing the other effects to nonsignificant levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-429
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 19 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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