Family wealth endures for centuries

Live Science: Rich families stay rich and poor families stay poor, according to a new study that finds that English people whose ancestors were elite in the 1100s are still likely part of the upper crust today.

The study echoes work in other countries that has found that social status budges little over generations, even in the face of massive social changes, said study researcher Gregory Clark, an economist at the University of California, Davis.

Clark began his research on social mobility expecting that families would generally tend toward the average — a particular surname might stand out among the elite for a generation or two, but their descendants would probably regress in notability.

“To our surprise, when we started getting the data, we found this surprising persistence,” Clark told Live Science. Names retain their status (low or high) for 500 years or more in some cases, he said. [Continue reading…]

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