2271: Grandpa Jason and Grandpa Chad

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Grandpa Jason and Grandpa Chad
The AARP puts the average age of a first-time grandparent close to 50, and the CDC has some data. But I don't have first-parent age distributions for specific names, or generational first-child age correlations, so the dotted line is just a guess. Still, let's be honest: No further research is really *needed.*
Title text: The AARP puts the average age of a first-time grandparent close to 50, and the CDC has some data. But I don't have first-parent age distributions for specific names, or generational first-child age correlations, so the dotted line is just a guess. Still, let's be honest: No further research is really *needed.*


This is another comic with one of Randall's fun facts.

The comic contains three separate curves, with the x-axis being the date and the y-axis being the frequency of three separate sets of data:

The graph shows that the names "Jason" and "Chad" were extremely uncommon in the US prior to the 1960's, but then experienced a surge in popularity, peaking in the late 1970's, and falling off thereafter. There are a couple of interesting effects when certain names become temporarily trendy. It means that those names become closely associated with a particular age cohort, so one can guess a person's age range based solely on their first name, and therefore predict other tendencies associated with age (this is also explored in 1950: Chicken Pox and Name Statistics). A side effect of this is that, when this cohort first comes of age, those names enter the public consciousness as being associated with youth, trendiness and irresponsibility. Of course, that cohort continues to age, and eventually becomes the adult cohort, then the senior cohort, but stereotypes are often slow to change. 2165: Millennials is similarly about how a label has outlived the demographic that it was used to describe, while the people described by the label have outgrown the traits that the label entails.

In addition to dealing with with the inertia of our assumptions and stereotype, this comic also continues a long XKCD tradition of pointing out how quickly time is passing, and how slow we often are to realize it. In this case, those of us in Randall's general age range are used to thinking of "Jason" and "Chad" as names for young, trendy, party animals. The fact that only a small fraction of people with these names are under the age of 30, and a growing number of them are now grandparents (and that trend is likely to increase rapidly in the next few years), forces us to acknowledge that quite a bit of time has passed since we first formed our world views, and that means we've aged, even if we haven't noticed it.

The title text adds a caveat to the assertion, mentioning the lack of any real evidence for the distribution of ages of Grandparents, but tacitly admits that the matter is not sufficiently important to seek any further precision.

Other possible caveats of the data:

  • The Y-axis is in percent of the highest year, not absolute numbers. So while it jokingly implies that, in a few years, all grandparents will be named Jason and Chad, in actuality it will probably be in the order of the hundreds of thousands of people (less than 2% of all grandparents), but still common enough compared to other "ages" to be "the age of Grandpa Jason and Grandpa Chad"
  • There are many fewer people whose legal name is Chad than people whose legal name is Jason, so "Grandpa Jason" will probably be much more common than "Grandpa Chad"
  • Chad is really more of a nickname, so data on people assigned the name Chad at birth may be meaningless

The title text ends with the text "No further research is really *needed,*" referencing 2268: Further Research is Needed. This is also a joke in itself. The emphasis on *needed* is an admission that although more research is *possible*, it's simply not warranted, given the fairly trivial nature of the topic.


[A progression chart covering the period of years between 1950 to 1995. One line, representing the birth years of people becoming grandparents, is dotted and begins low at the start, climbs, then steeply declines. Two solid lines, representing the birth years of people named "Chad" or "Jason", begin in the early 1960s, rise almost concurrently, however one declines steadily while the other has a curve almost before the end of the chart. The overlapping area between the dotted and solid lines is shaded. The lines show the following data:]
Birth years of people becoming grandparents this year (United States, very rough estimate)
[A dotted line which begins at 1950, rises to its peak at 1970, then steeply declines to zero by the late '70s.]
Birth years of people named "Jason" and "Chad" (Social Security data)
[Chad: A solid line beginning at 1962, rises to its peak by 1975, then drops through the '80s and '90s. Jason crosses underneath it in 1985, but then re-crosses it in 1993.]
[Jason: A solid line beginning at 1963, rises to its peak between 1977-80, then declines, dropping beneath Chad around 1985 but climbing above it again in 1993.]
[Caption below the comic:]
Fun fact: We have now entered the era of "Grandpa Jason" and "Grandpa Chad."

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Is the Title Text a callback to 2268 with the "no further research is needed" comment? Stickfigurefan (talk) 17:58, 21 February 2020 (UTC)

  • That was the first thing that came to my mind. Since researching when people named Jason and Chad became grandparents is far from a top research priority, one can indeed say that further research is not "needed". That said, though, I would have liked to have seen the female counterparts, to indicate what "Grandma" names are also coming into vogue now. -- 18:05, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
    • Agree. I added a few sentences to that effect. To ela*borate: Enough research has been done to support the main joke which is the incongruity between what specific names implied in the 70's and what they imply today. More specific information would not improve the joke. And, let's face it, would not be very interesting. Epsilon (talk) 11:04, 22 February 2020 (UTC)
    • Note: Should we explain *x* to any non-nerds (or, the non-nerd ?) reading this? For text rendered in plain ASCII the asterisks surrounding a word or a phrase imply that this text should have been rendered in bold. I.e. emphasized. This might not be obvious to everybody. Epsilon (talk) 11:04, 22 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Looks like I may have edited the page at the same time as someone else. Sorry about that! 18:41, 21 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Does someone know of -- and can add to the explanation -- a reason why Jason and Chad are coming into popularity as names? In Australia, Jason Donovan was an actor who played a lead character in the popular soap "Neighbours" alongside Kylie Minogue (which is why, in Australia, we'd be getting "Grandma Kylie" coming into vogue. DrSamCarter (talk) 20:51, 21 February 2020 (UTC)DrSamCarter
    • Well, to be precise, Jason and Chad came into popularity about 50 years ago, but I don't know why that happened at that time. While it's true that you should be seeing a bunch of "Grandma Kylie"s in Australia now, Kylie Minogue can't take the credit for that. She was born into a generation where the name was already popular. In 1970, Kylie was the 5th most popular name for baby girls in Australia, so Kylie Minogue, born in 1968, might have gone to school with a number of other Kylies, well before she joined the cast of "Neighbours" in 1986. The name Kylie didn't catch on in the U.S. until much later, so it'll be years before we see a significant number of "Grandma Kylie"s here. -- 00:38, 22 February 2020 (UTC)
      • Jason and the Argonauts came out in 1963. Given the slower speed of film distribution, it is not farfecthed to think that some future parents were seeing it for the first time in the 70s and thought that would be a groovy name for their kids, or just watched it growing up and the name stuck with them. (Source for this being the most famous Jason: the Baby Boomers of America wouldn't talk about any other Jason while I was growing up).
Chad is a little harder. While there is a movie in the same time period with a protagonist named Chad, it was nowhere near as successful as Jason and the Argonauts. There was also a famous Canadian TV host named Chad at the time. Since the nickname originated near the Canadian border, it seems like a more likely candidate.
--FrankHightower 17:15, 23 February 2020 (UTC)
      • Chad Everett starred as Dr. Joe Gannon on CBS' Medical Center starting in 1969. The show was popular enough that it could have helped inspire parents to name their sons after him. 16:27, 24 February 2020 (UTC)

In case someone wants to do further research on The Netherlands, here's some data on first names popularity: https://www.meertens.knaw.nl/nvb/english --IByte (talk) 09:55, 22 February 2020 (UTC)

Current wiki link to Chad (slang) might be better changed to Chad (name). And, while we're there, one could also make Jason into the Jason_(given_name) link or similar? ((Re-edit to say that I understand the Chad Slang link is important. Maybe put that over another useful leap-off term, letting legitimate Jasons and Chads get their own glory???)) And I find the range of ages of grandparentage to be interesting, with both friends and relatives having rushed into new generations far quicker than me. (I have... four..? first cousins twice removed, if I haven't forgotten another one of them, and I think one of them might become a parent before I do.) Or maybe I'm just taking too long to settle down? 15:12, 22 February 2020 (UTC)

I look at that graph, then think about the fact that my grandfather was born in 1870, my father in 1918, and I in 1969 (so my grandfather was 48 when my dad was born, and would have been 99 when I was born) and if things work out and I have my first child this year I will be 51 when it is born. Who are the people having kids so young to pull that curve down so far that 50 is the *average* age for being a *grandparent?* I know there are occasional out-of-wedlock births to kids in college or even high school, but if those stats are correct that would seem to dramatically underscore the need for better sex education, and better access to birth control, in schools. -- 07:00, 23 February 2020‎ (UTC)

Technically, I know people on both ends of the spectrum. I'm currently 49, and I have a friend from grade school who became an empty nester at 47 and a grandfather at 48. I'm more middle of the road- my Child was born 16 years ago, when I was 32. I have a cousin who had a daughter at age 21, who in turn had a daughter at age 21, making her a grandmother at age 42. I have heard of cases with precocious puberty of women having children as young as age 8, and if you had that for two generations, a girl could technically become a grandmother at age 16 and for three generations a great-grandmother by age 24.Seebert (talk) 15:50, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I'm a millennial and my parents "had me" at 32, and it was considered "a little late in life" by their peers, even though they were just following my grandparents before them. -- 17:15, 23 February 2020 (UTC)
I don't have his DOB handy (though its on a family tree file, I wrote up a few years ago) but my Grandad died when I was v.young, being quite old for his generation, but also maybe industry-related ill health didn't help his whole cohort; my father was very fit and active (for most of his life, until he wasn't) and died at a decent age of 88, but before I in turn had kids for him to grandparent (he was in his forties before I arrived on the scene and I've not been any more rushed in this). I could easily not see grandchildren of my own. And I have a cousin married to a Jason! (Not yet a grandpa, either - though it could easily happen in the next year or two, though that would depend very much upon his daughter of course, IYSWIM.) 17:30, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

I checked - the first Jason (Friday13th) movie came out in 1980, so we can't blame that particular genre for the popularity of the name. One source suggests the film director chose the name because it was popular at the time. Other possibility: "There was a character named Jason Weber on The Guiding Light in the 1965-66 season. " Cellocgw (talk) 13:51, 24 February 2020 (UTC)

I believe part of the reason we imagine Chad as a young man's name is because of the "Virgin Chad" meme, which typically depicts a Chad as a frat bro.