First Advisor

Emily Shafer

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Sociology and University Honors






Personal names, Unmarried mothers, Logistic regression analysis, Patrilineal kinship




By analyzing characteristics of single mothers in the baseline wave of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), I aim to discover which characteristics of single mothers predict their choice to give their newborn children non-traditional last names, or names other than the father's last name. My exploratory study focuses on finding significant relationships to illuminate predictors of mother’s surname choices. Initially mother's age, education, religiosity, political liberalness, race/ethnicity, and relationship to the father were analyzed. After analysis, the mother’s relationship with the father was found to be the most significant. Compared to mothers who are cohabiting with the father, both mothers visiting and in non-romantic relationships were more likely to choose non-traditional last names. Hispanic mothers were less likely to choose non-traditional last names than white non-Hispanic mothers and mothers who never attend religious services were more likely to choose non-traditional last names than mothers who attend religious services weekly. Using Statistical Package for Social Sciences, or SPSS, I recoded data from the original baseline wave from the FFCWS and performed statistical analysis using binary logistic regression. My exploratory study acts as an addition to a rather new discussion of surname choices as well as the changing of gendered societal practices. Conclusions illuminate the importance of the mother-father relationship in predicting single mothers' surname choice for their children.


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Sociology Commons