We’d like to think of our societies as places with a lot of social mobility, in which individuals can climb the ladder by working hard. But by tracking families with rare surnames across the centuries, Gregory Clark, an economist, has shown that social mobility is much rarer than we’d like to think.
The descendants of 14th century Florentine aristocrats, 18th century Korean civil servants and 19th century Swedish notables, research Clark conducted or inspired has shown, are much more likely to work in prestigious professions or own a lot of money in the 21st century. Why could that be?
In the latest episode of The Good Fight, Yascha Mounk talks to Gregory Clark about the limits of social mobility; why some families succeed while others fail; and what implications that should have for social and economic policy.
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Podcast production by John T. Williams and Rebecca Rashid
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