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Surnames and social mobility: England 1230-2012

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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. "Surnames and social mobility: England 1230-2012," Economic History Working Papers 54515, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:wpaper:54515
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/54515/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Neil, 2014. "Surnames and social mobility in England, 1170–2012," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60593, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Clark, Gregory & Cummins, Neil, 2010. "Malthus to Modernity: England’s First Fertility Transition, 1760-1800," MPRA Paper 25465, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Hertz Tom & Jayasundera Tamara & Piraino Patrizio & Selcuk Sibel & Smith Nicole & Verashchagina Alina, 2008. "The Inheritance of Educational Inequality: International Comparisons and Fifty-Year Trends," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-48, January.
    5. 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.
    6. John Ermisch & Marco Francesconi & Thomas Siedler, 2006. "Intergenerational Mobility and Marital Sorting," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 659-679, July.
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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

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    Cited by:

    1. Jantti, Markus & Jenkins, Stephen P., 2013. "Income mobility," ISER Working Paper Series 2013-23, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    2. Mikael Lindahl & Mårten Palme & Sofia Sandgren Massih & Anna Sjögren, 2015. "Long-Term Intergenerational Persistence of Human Capital: An Empirical Analysis of Four Generations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 1-33.
    3. Mikael Lindahl & Mårten Palme & Sofia Sandgren-Massih & Anna Sjögren, 2014. "A Test of the Becker-Tomes Model of Human Capital Transmission Using Microdata on Four Generations," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 80-96.
    4. Romeu, Andrés & Collado, M. Dolores & Ortuño Ortin, Ignacio, 2013. "Long-run intergenerational social mobility and the distribution of surnames," UMUFAE Economics Working Papers 36768, DIGITUM. Universidad de Murcia.
    5. Hoyt Bleakley & Joseph Ferrie, 2016. "Shocking Behavior: Random Wealth in Antebellum Georgia and Human Capital Across Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(3), pages 1455-1495.
    6. Gary Solon, 2013. "Theoretical Models of Inequality Transmission across Multiple Generations," NBER Working Papers 18790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Stuhler, Jan, 2012. "Mobility Across Multiple Generations: The Iterated Regression Fallacy," IZA Discussion Papers 7072, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Hoyt Bleakley & Joseph P. Ferrie, 2013. "Up from Poverty? The 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery and the Long-run Distribution of Wealth," NBER Working Papers 19175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Olivetti, Claudia & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2013. "In the Name of the Son (and the Daughter): Intergenerational Mobility in the United States, 1850-1930," CEPR Discussion Papers 9372, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. 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.
    11. Korom, Philipp & Lutter, Mark & Beckert, Jens, 2015. "The enduring importance of family wealth: Evidence from the Forbes 400, 1982 to 2013," MPIfG Discussion Paper 15/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    12. Piraino, Patrizio & Muller, Sean & Cilliers, Jeanne & Fourie, Johan, 2013. "The transmission of longevity across generations: The case of the settler Cape Colony," SALDRU Working Papers 113, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

    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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