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Intergenerational mobility in England, 1858-2012. Wealth, surnames, and social mobility

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  • Clark, Gregory
  • Cummins, Neil

Abstract

This paper uses a panel of 21,618 people with rare surnames whose wealth is observed at death in England and Wales 1858-2012 to measure the intergeneration elasticity of wealth over five generations. We show, using rare surnames to track families, that wealth is much more persistent over generations than standard one generation estimates would suggest. There is still a significant correlation between the wealth of families five generations apart. We show that this finding can be reconciled with standard estimates of wealth mobility by positing an underlying Markov process of wealth inheritance with an intergenerational elasticity of 0.70-0.75 throughout the years 1858-2012. The enormous social and economic changes of this long period had surprisingly little effect on the strength of inheritance of wealth.

Suggested Citation

  • Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Neil, 2013. "Intergenerational mobility in England, 1858-2012. Wealth, surnames, and social mobility," Economic History Working Papers 54513, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:54513
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/54513/
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
    2. Nicoletti Cheti & Ermisch John F, 2008. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Changes across Cohorts in Britain," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-38, January.
    3. Jason Long, 2013. "The surprising social mobility of Victorian Britain," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-23, February.
    4. Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Neil, 2013. "Surnames and social mobility: England 1230-2012," Economic History Working Papers 54515, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Family wealth persistence over several centuries
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-12-20 20:54:00

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intergenerational social mobility; inequality; family economics; education;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N33 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: Pre-1913

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