The trend toward women keeping their maiden names after marriage peaked in the 1990s, when about 23% of women did so, then eased gradually to about 18% in the 2000s, says a 35-year-study published in 2009 in the journal Social Behavior and Personality. And increasingly, studies show women's decisions on the issue are guided by factors other than political or religious ideas about women's rights or marital roles, as often believed.
Well-educated women in high-earning occupations are significantly more likely to keep their maiden names, the study shows. Brides in professional fields such as medicine, the arts or entertainment are the most likely of all to do so. Age makes a big difference too, according to a 2010 study in a scholarly journal entitled "Names: A Journal of Onomastics." Women who married when they were 35 to 39 years old were 6.4 times more likely to keep their names than women who married between the ages of 20 and 24.