Sunday, November 30, 2014

COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS | CFR | UC DAVIS | Gregory Clark | American | History | Dreams | Rising | Suns | Sons | Magritte, Rene, Le fils de l'homme (The Son of Man), 1967, Series 2

Gregory Clark
          - Professor of Economics - University of California, DavisWELCOME
... 'The United States is not exceptional in its rates of social mobility,' the professor wrote in an essay published by the Council on Foreign Relations .... link to continue reading article at "Daily Mail" below ...

I am a Professor of Economics at UC-Davis, an editor of the European Review of Economic History, chair of the steering committee of the All-UC Group in Economic History, and a Research Associate of the Center for Poverty Research at Davis >

'There is no American Dream': Why one US professor believes the national ethos is an illusion and the country has the same level of social mobility as medieval England

  • Gregory Clark, of UC Davis, claims American dream is simply an illusion
  • Instead, social mobility in U.S. is no higher than in rest of world, he says
  • Disadvantaged citizens 'will not be granted opportunities for hard work'
  • They will remain stuck in social status for life - and so will their children
  • Mr Clark's findings were obtained using figures from the past 100 years
  • But his students disagree, saying parents' wealth is not 'deciding factor'

How much of our fate is tied to the status of our parents and grandparents? How much does this influence our children? More than we wish to believe. While it has been argued that rigid class structures have eroded in favor of greater social equality, The Son Also Rises proves that movement on the social ladder has changed little over eight centuries. Using a novel technique--tracking family names over generations to measure social mobility across countries and periods--renowned economic historian Gregory Clark reveals that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies. The good news is that these patterns are driven by strong inheritance of abilities and lineage does not beget unwarranted advantage. The bad news is that much of our fate is predictable from lineage. Clark argues that since a greater part of our place in the world is predetermined, we must avoid creating winner-take-all societies.

Clark examines and compares surnames in such diverse cases as modern Sweden, fourteenth-century England, and Qing Dynasty China.

He demonstrates how fate is determined by ancestry and that almost all societies--as different as the modern United States, Communist China, and modern Japan--have similarly low social mobility rates.

These figures are impervious to institutions, and it takes hundreds of years for descendants to shake off the advantages and disadvantages of their ancestors. For these reasons, Clark contends that societies should act to limit the disparities in rewards between those of high and low social rank.

Challenging popular assumptions about mobility and revealing the deeply entrenched force of inherited advantage, The Son Also Rises is sure to prompt intense debate for years to come.

My main current research is on the history and nature of social mobility, investigated using the status information content of surnames and its rate of change over time.  Using such methods we can estimate rates of social mobility as early as 1300 for England, and 1700 for Sweden.  But I still also study long run economic growth, the wealth of nations, with particular focus on the economic history of England and India.

I teach undergraduate and graduate World Economic History, and help organize the economic history seminar.  We have one of the strongest groups of economic historians in the world here.  If you are interested in Economic History at Davis check the web sites of my colleagues Peter Lindert, Chris Meissner, Alan Olmstead, and Alan Taylor.

I grew up in Scotland, where one of my contemporaries at Holy Cross High, Hamilton, was Donnie Burns, 14-time World Professional Latin American Dance Champion.  My grandfathers came from Ireland to work in the coal mines and steel mills of the Clyde Valley, as part of the great diaspora of the Irish triggered by Ireland’s failure to industrialize in the nineteenth century.

My path from the rain of the West of Scotland to the sunshine of California was by way of degrees at King’s College, Cambridge, and Harvard, and faculty positions at Stanford and Michigan.

My office is 1137 Social Sciences and Humanities Building.  To contact me stop by, call 530-574-7188, or send an e-mail.~
Office: SSH Room 1137, Phone: 530-574-7188, E-mail:

[Sidebar:  The Internet is the missing mystery of the future history that has yet to be -- and yet has already been, 1967 and, Magritte, Rene, Le fils de l'homme (The Son of Man), 1967, Series 2

Professor Gregory needs a visual fine artist 'cartoon' level of Rembrandt, Delacroix, Donald and Ryan Wilson, also on FACEBOOK<


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