The Long Shadow of Ancestry

The recent article The Inheritance of Social Status: England, 1600-2022, shows a strong persistence of social status across family trees, progressively weakening but detectable even to the fourth cousin level.  

Despite social changes in England between 1600 and 2022 people remain correlated in outcomes with their lineage relatives in exactly the same way as in pre-industrial England. There are also conclusions on marriage partners social status.

The study, by Gregory Clark from UC Davis and the LSE, preliminary in nature, is based on data from the Guild of One-Name Studies and the FreeReg organization. While I don’t pretend to follow the detail, what should we make of the comment that “Since 1920 there have been increasing levels of public provision of education, health care, and basic needs. These services should have helped, in particular, poorer families. Yet we see no corresponding increase in rates of social mobility.”

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