The study, one of the first to find benefits of having a racially distinctive name, examined 3 million death certificates from 1802 to 1970. Other studies that looked at current black names such as Jamal and Lakisha suggest that having these modern-day monikers leads to discrimination.

"A number of studies indicate that modern black names can act as a burden, whereas our findings show that historical black names conveyed a large advantage over a person's lifetime," said Lisa D Cook, associate professor at Michigan State University.

Using historical death certificate data from four states- Alabama, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina – the researchers previously established the existence of a set of distinctive names given to black men, mainly in the early 20th century. The names range from Abraham to Booker to Isaac.

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