From historical records Clarks demonstrates (open source) strong persistence of social status across family trees over 400 years, in spite of large increases in general levels of education and social mobility.
There is widespread belief across the social sciences in the ability of social interventions and social institutions to significantly influence rates of social mobility. In England, 1600 to 2022, we see considerable change in social institutions across time. Half the population was illiterate in 1,800, and not until 1,880 was compulsory primary education introduced. Progressively after this, educational provision and other social supports for poorer families expanded greatly. The paper shows, however, that these interventions did not change in any measurable way the strong familial persistence of social status across generations.Abstract
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.