Surnames and Social Mobility in England, 1170–2012
- 8.3k Downloads
Using educational status in England from 1170 to 2012, we show that the rate of social mobility in any society can be estimated from knowledge of just two facts: the distribution over time of surnames in the society and the distribution of surnames among an elite or underclass. Such surname measures reveal that the typical estimate of parent–child correlations in socioeconomic measures in the range of 0.2–0.6 are misleading about rates of overall social mobility. Measuring education status through Oxbridge attendance suggests a generalized intergenerational correlation in status in the range of 0.70–0.90. Social status is more strongly inherited even than height. This correlation is unchanged over centuries. Social mobility in England in 2012 was little greater than in preindustrial times. Thus there are indications of an underlying social physics surprisingly immune to government intervention.
KeywordsSocial mobility Intergenerational correlation Status inheritance
- Atkinson, A., Maynard, A., & Trinder, C. (1983). Parents and children: Incomes in two generations. London: Heinemann.Google Scholar
- Clark, G., & Cummins, N. (2014a). Inequality and social mobility in the Industrial Revolution era. In R. Floud, J. Humphries, & P. Johnson (Eds.), The Cambridge economic history of modern Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Clark, G., Cummins, N., Diaz Vidal, D., Hao, Y., Ishii, T., Landes, Z., Marcin, D., Mo Jung, K., Marek, A., & Williams, K. (2014). The son also rises: 1,000 years of social mobility. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Clark, G., & Hamilton, G. (2006). Survival of the richest. The Malthusian mechanism in pre-industrIal England. Journal of Economic History, 66(3), 707–36.Google Scholar
- Corak. M. (2012) Inequality from generation to generation: The United States in comparison. In R. Rycroft (Ed), The economics of inequality, poverty, and discrimination in the 21st century. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
- Greenstein, D. (1994). The junior members, 1900–1990: a profile. In B. Harrison (Ed.), The history of the University of Oxford, volume VIII. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Grönqvist, E., Öckert, B., Vlachos, J. (2011) The intergenerational transmission of cognitive and non-cognitive abilities. IFN Working Paper No. 884. Available at doi: 10.2139/ssrn.2050393.
- Harbury, C., & Hitchens, D. (1979). Inheritance and wealth inequality in Britain. London: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
- Hertz, T., Jayasundera, T., Piraino, P., Selcuk, S., Smith, N., Verashchagina, A. (2007) The inheritance of educational inequality: International comparisons and fifty-year trends. The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 7, Article 10.Google Scholar
- Keats-Rohan, K. S. B. (1999). Domesday people: A prosopography of persons occurring in English documents 1066–1166. Woodbridge: Boydell Press.Google Scholar
- Schurer, K., & Woollard, M. (2000). 1881 Census for England and Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (enhanced version) [computer file]. Genealogical Society of Utah, Federation of Family History Societies, [original data producer(s)]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive [distributor]. SN: 4177, doi: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-4177-1.