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Changing name can help you earn more money

india Updated: Mar 13, 2009 12:37 IST

Changing name can help you earn more money, at least that’s what Stockholm University researchers believe.

Study authors Mahmood Arai and Peter Skogman Thoursie have found that immigrants to Sweden earned more money after they change their foreign-sounding names.

They found that earnings increased by 141 per cent for a sample of African, Asian and Slavic immigrants who changed their names to be ethnically neutral or a bit more Swedish-sounding. "[W]e believe [the name change effect] stems largely from improving one's chances of being called to a job interview and thus increasing employment probabilities," the authors write.

"Employers might sort out the applicants with foreign-sounding names due to [notions] about abilities and characteristics assumed to be associated with such names," they added. Arai and Skogman Thoursie used a sample of 641 immigrants who registered a name-change with the Swedish government between 1991 and 2000.

They analyzed earnings in the three years before and three years after a name change. The researchers found that earnings increase mostly in individuals within the group who reported little or no earnings before the name change. The analysis showed that the increase in earnings generally occurred the year after a name change became final.

"It is reasonable to assume that individuals who change names … also try other strategies, such as an intensified job search, in order to improve their chances of employment and earnings," the researchers write. The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Labor Economics.