The Y-name Syndrome: Prisons and Prejudice:

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för nationalekonomi

Abstract: The y-name syndrome is a wide-spread conception in Swedish society about men with names that end with a y, such as Ronny, Conny and Jonny. Y-names are taken as signals of low socioeconomic status, including criminality. To the best of our knowledge, the subject has, as of yet, not been examined empirically. First, this thesis explores whether or not the y-name syndrome is evidence-based by examining the relationship between y-names and socioeconomic status in 26 municipalities, and the prevalence of y-names among men who are, or have been in the custody of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service. 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 socioeconomic status and are over-represented among criminals. Second, we explore if people with y-names are discriminated against in the labor market. This is investigated by looking at the ceteris paribus effect of a y-name on how 864 Swedish adults rated an employment résumé. The test found no conclusive evidence of discrimination.

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