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The inheritance of social status: England, 1600 to 2022

Clark, Gregory (2023) The inheritance of social status: England, 1600 to 2022. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 120 (27). ISSN 1091-6490

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Identification Number: 10.1073/pnas.2300926120


A lineage of 422,374 English people (1600 to 2022) contains correlations in social outcomes among relatives as distant as 4th cousins. These correlations show striking patterns. The first is the strong persistence of social status across family trees. Correlations decline by a factor of only 0.79 across each generation. Even fourth cousins, with a common ancestor only five generations earlier, show significant status correlations. The second remarkable feature is that the decline in correlation with genetic distance in the lineage is unchanged from 1600 to 2022. Vast social changes in England between 1600 and 2022 would have been expected to increase social mobility. Yet people in 2022 remain correlated in outcomes with their lineage relatives in exactly the same way as in preindustrial England. The third surprising feature is that the correlations parallel those of a simple model of additive genetic determination of status, with a genetic correlation in marriage of 0.57.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Economic History
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, and Vacancies > J60 - General
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N30 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: General, International, or Comparative (Migration)
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2023 16:03
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 04:33

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