First letter of last name might determine a life of success or failure

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BOULDER, Colo. -- A study by the University of Colorado spells out the suggestion that the first letter of your last name might determine your success in life.

According to the study, which examines "alphabetism," people with surnames beginning with a letter in the last half of the alphabet might face a tougher time academically, landing a first job and getting through life in general.

The study, published last month, is not necessarily grounded in indisputable science. One of the lead researchers said the results were surprising.

“Statistically, we were looking at two people who were carbon copies of each other," said economics professor Jeffrey Zax.

"Even though they were the same in every other way, the fellow with the initial at the front of the alphabet was substantially more likely to be designated informally by teachers as an outstanding student.”

Zax teamed with graduate student Alexander Cauley to conduct the social experiment. The researchers solicited sets of people with similar IQs and educational performance.

Academic success, life satisfaction and general life outcome were compared.

“This was all just really dramatic. It’s purely the initial doing it," Zax said. "If you’re a Clark, you’re maybe 10 percent more likely to be identified as an outstanding student than your twin who happens to take on the last name of Norton.”

If you're a millennial with a last name starting with the letters N to Z, fear not. The study concluded the negative facets associated with certain letters wanes with age.

“The good piece of news is that the effects that we saw seem to dissipate by the 30s. We saw them very strongly at the end of high school and through college and in the first labor market experiences. They were gone by the age of 35 and they remained absent at 52,” Zax said.