“50 to 60 percent of variation in overall status is determined by your lineage” said Professor Gregory Clark, University of California, Davis, at a seminar organised jointly by the EIB Institute, the University of Luxembourg  (coordinated by MARS – Multidisciplinary Area of Research on Sustainability, Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education) and other partners as part of the “Inequality and…” series.

The fortunes of high-status families inexorably fall, and those of low-status families rise, toward the average — what social scientists call “regression to the mean” — but the process can take 10 to 15 generations (300 to 450 years), much longer than most social scientists have estimated in the past.

According to Prof. Clark, it is possible to measure social mobility by tracing status by surname lineages because, contrary to conventional estimates focusing on individual aspects of status (culture, education social networks), surnames capture what happens to underlying overall status.

Click here for the presentation.