In its 134-page Annual Report (2021) the Alaska Division of Public Health tracks a large amount of health and medical data for residents -- including what we're naming our babies.
In its 134-page Annual Report (2021) the Alaska Division of Public Health tracks a large amount of health and medical data for residents — including what we’re naming our babies. (Flickr photo/mulan)

The most popular boys name in Alaska in 2021 was actually a tie: Noah and Oliver.

This interesting – and surprising – fact was compiled by the Alaska Division of Public Health, along with over one-hundred pages of other vital statistics for the state for the year.

See the complete 2021 Alaska Vital Statistics Annual Report.

At a time of year when everyone is making lists of the best and worst of 2022, please remember that the information in Alaska’s most recent vital statistics report comes from 2021. So Noah and Oliver may have been nudged off the top spot in the past 12 months – we’ll just have to wait until this time in 2023 to find out. I will reveal the top girls name of 2021 at the end of this story, if you’d care to guess.

In the meantime, there is a lot of other information available about 2021, some of it positive, and some of it distressing.

COVID, for example, was the third leading cause of death in Alaska last year, right behind heart disease and cancer, and ahead of accidents. Heart disease and cancer each took the lives of just over 1,000 residents in 2021; COVID killed 762, accidents killed 591.

A total of 6,216 Alaskans died in 2021, but happily, there were more residents born in 2021 offsetting some recent trends in outmigration from the state. There were 9,410 babies in the state that year, over 3,000 more than the number of deaths. 52-percent of those babies were boys. The oldest mother to give birth was 48, the youngest was 14. The oldest dad was 71, and the youngest dad 15. And contrary to whatever stereotypes the rest of the country holds for long winters and romance in Alaska, the number of births in the state by month is absolutely uniform (although it has been on a slow decline since 2017).

The Alaska Division of Public Health tracks a huge amount of data on ethnicity, prenatal care, and other factors relevant to birth – not to mention reams of charts and tables on the diseases we’re suffering from,  the accidents that befall us, and life expectancy. The complete Vital Statistics Report is a total of 132 pages long. 

But really, the most unexpected statistic is the state’s tracking of baby names: I’ve already mentioned Noah and Oliver were tied for the boys, at 42 each. Oliver has actually been at the top of the list three out of the last four years, except for 2019, when Liam was number one. Wyatt, Elijah, and Logan have all been recent runners up. And for girls, Amelia was the top Alaskan baby name in 2021, with Ava, Hazel, and Olivia tied for second, and Charlotte a close third. The two names to take a dip in popularity in the last few years are James and Emma: Both were number one in 2017, and dropped to fourth in 2021.