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Surnames and social mobility: England 1230-2012

Gregory Clark () and Neil Cummins ()

Economic History Working Papers from London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History

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.

Keywords: intergenerational social mobility; inequality; family economics; education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D31 I23 J62 N33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo and nep-his
Date: 2013-11
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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