"Family Wealth Lasts For Ten To Fifteen Generations: An Interview with Gregory Clark, historian of social mobility"

Clark uses historical records to track surnames and social status over generations, and finds that rates of social mobility are surprisingly similar—and surprisingly slow— across societies as diverse as feudal England, modern Sweden and Qing Dynasty China.

Most social scientists estimate that it takes about three to five generations for a family's wealth or poverty to dissipate, but Clark says it takes a staggering ten to fifteen generations—300 to 450 years—and there's not much the government can do about it. According to his calculations, if you live in England and share a last name with a Norman conqueror listed in the Domesday book of 1086—think Sinclair, Percy, Beauchamp—you have a 25 percent higher chance of matriculating at Oxford or Cambridge. If you're an American with an ancestor who graduated from an Ivy League college between 1650 and 1850, it's twice as likely that you're listed in the American Medical Association's Directory of Physicians.





Speak your mind

1 Comment so far

  1. ED on March 7, 2016 3:04 pm

    is it gene dissipation or wealth dissipation? Wealth dissipation is of no consequence relative to the former.


Resources & Links