Status is inherited with greater strength than height
There is no trade-off between the quantity and quality of children
The north of England declined because of outmigration of talent
Not much in fact
Less than half of all wealth is inherited
Research is ongoing
If social outcomes have social causation, mothers and fathers in different societies will have different effects on child outcomes. Social mobility rates on the patriline will differ from that on the matriline. From an extensive family lineage of 426,552 persons in England 1650-2023 we estimate the influence of mothers versus fathers on social outcomes 1754-2023. Mothers’ and fathers’ education and social status are equally predictive of most child social outcomes across the entire period, even for the patriarchical society of eighteenth-nineteenth century England. Only for wealth was there a much stronger influence of the patriline.
Using a new database of 1.7 million marriage records for England 1837-2021 we estimate assortment by occupational status in marriage, and the intergenerational correlation of occupational status. We find the underlying correlations of status groom-bride, and father-son, are remarkably high: 0.8 and 0.9 respectively. These correlations are unchanged 1837-2021. There is evidence this strong matching extends back to at least 1754. Even before formal education and occupations for women, grooms and brides matched tightly on educational and occupational abilities. We show further that women contributed as much as men to important child outcomes. This implies strong marital sorting substantially increased the variance of social abilities in England. Pre-industrial marital systems typically involved much less marital sorting. Thus the development of assortative marriage may play a role in the location and timing of the Industrial Revolution, through its effect on the supply of those with upper-tail abilities.
The North of England is now poorer and less educated than the South. Using complete population data at the surname level 1837-2006, and a large sample of individuals born 1780-1929, this paper shows two things. First an important element in the decline of the North was selective outmigration of those with education and talent. This migration is evident even for the generation born 1780-1809, and continued to those born 1900-1929. There was also selective migration to the South of those with education and talent coming from outside England -, Scottish, Pakistanis and others. However the migration of talent to the South created no significant external benefits to workers in the South, as would be predicted by the doctrines of the New Economic Geography. Surnames concentrated in the North do not show any national disadvantage in education, occupation or wealth. Also for workers of a given education or social background there is at most a very modest locational disadvantage associated with being born in the North. Thus there will be no efficiency gain from facilitating further migration south from the North, or from further efforts to bolster the economy of the North through government aid.
Using evidence from the accident of twin births we show that for four Western European pre-industrial population samples – England 1538-1826, England 1730-1879, France 1670-1789 and Quebec, 1621-1835 – there was no evidence of control of fertility within marriage. If a twin was born to a family in any of these populations, average family size increased by 1 compared to families with a singleton birth at the same parity and mother age, with no reduction of subsequent fertility. Twin births also show no differential effect on fertility when they occur at high, as opposed to low, parities. This is in contrast to populations where fertility is known to have been controlled by at least some families, such as England, 1900-49. There a twin birth increased average births per family by significantly less than 1.
To estimate the share of inherited wealth in total wealth, we employ a sample of English families with rare surnames over the period from 1858 to 2012. By looking at the total wealth of the rare surname families by generation we can estimate an upper bound of the share of inherited wealth relative to all wealth. We find that at maximum only 43% of the capital stock in any generation derived from inheritance, with 57% created de novo.
To what extent do parental characteristics explain child social outcomes? Typically, parent-child correlations in socioeconomic measures are in the range 0.2-0.6. Surname evidence suggests, however, that the intergenerational correlation of overall status is much higher. This paper shows, using educational status in England 1170-2012 as an example, that the true underlying correlation of social status is in the range 0.75-0.85. Social status is more strongly inherited even than height. This correlation is constant over centuries, suggesting an underlying social physics surprisingly immune to government intervention. Social mobility in England in 2012 is little greater than in pre-industrial times. Surname evidence in other countries suggests similarly slow underlying mobility rates
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
This paper explains how surname distributions can be used as a way to measure rates of social mobility in contemporary and historical societies. This allows for estimates of social mobility rates for any population for which we know just two facts: the distribution of surnames overall, and the distribution of surnames among some elite or underclass. Such information exists, for example, for England back to 1300, and for Sweden back to 1700. However surname distributions reveal a different, more fundamental type of mobility than that conventionally estimated. Thus surname estimates also allow for measuring a different aspect of social mobility, the underlying average social status of families, but the aspect that matters for mobility of social groups, and for families across multiple generations.
A key challenge to theories of long-run economic growth has been linking the onset of modern growth with the move to modern fertility limitation. A notable puzzle for these theories is that modern growth in England began around 1780, 100 years before there was seemingly any movement to limit fertility. Here we show that the aggregate data on fertility in England before 1880 conceals significant declines in the fertility of the middle and upper classes earlier. These declines coincide with the Industrial Revolution, and are of the character predicted by some recent theories of long-run growth.
The modern world is the product of two momentous changes: the Industrial Revolution of 1800, which brought sustained efficiency advances in economies, and the Demographic Transition of 1900, which channeled those efficiency advances mainly into increased income per capita, instead of increases in population. How these revolutions were connected has been a persistent unsolved puzzle in the history of growth. The Demographic Transition was achieved without any improvement in contraceptive technologies from those of 1800 and earlier. It was a possibility for all preindustrial societies. Why did it occur only after the Industrial Revolution?