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June 29, 2015

NYT reports recent spike in married women keeping maiden names

Gender Equality Marriage
Wedding couple File Art/for PhillyVoice


A survey conducted by The New York Times suggests an uptick in the percent of married women opting to keep their maiden names in recent years.

The reporting team behind The New York Times’ data-driven venture The Upshot surveyed women married in recent years and found 20 percent kept their maiden names. The team then compared the findings to naming practices post-marriage in previous years.

The survey also noted an additional 10 percent or so kept their maiden names in part by hyphenating them or legally changing them but continued to use their birth names professionally.


Marriage Name Graph

"The practice of keeping one’s maiden name after marriage — which appears to have declined sometime in the 1980s or 1990s — has begun rising again." (Google Consumer Survey)

About 17 percent of women who married for the first time in the 1970s kept their names, a number that fell to 14 percent in the more conservative 1980s before rising to 18 percent in the 1990s, the Google survey shows

But unlike in the 1970s, the team pointed out that the reason for keeping one's maiden name seems to have have little to do with politics and feminism and more to do with the fact that having the same last name as your spouse doesn't carry as much weight as it once did. 

As Laurie Scheuble, a sociology professor at Penn State University, suggests of today's married women, “When they do get around to marrying, they’ve already lived in a household with two names, so maybe it seems normal to them."

Read the full report by NYT's The Upshot here.