January 17, 2014

Gregory Clark: "The Son Also Rises"

An upcoming book by economic historian Gregory Clark, author of A Farewell to Alms:
The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) [Kindle Edition] 
Gregory Clark (Author) 
Print List Price: $29.95
Kindle Price: $16.17 
Publication Date: February 23, 2014 
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.

One of the things that weirded English people out about Margaret Thatcher being Prime Minister was that even after 700 years or so, "Thatcher" was still a pretty downscale name. In contrast, here is a list of Anglo-Norman names from 1066 and all that: Fitzgerald, Mandeville, Percy, Baskerville, Beaumont, Curzon, Grosvenor, Longchamp, Warren, etc.

A lot of heiresses and their mothers have plotted intensely over the centuries in England to marry guys with classy sounding names. For example, according to the speculation of biographer William Manchester, the genetic reinvigoration of the Churchill line after the the half dozen generations following the spectacular John Churchill, first duke of Marlborough, was due to Winston's paternal grandmother and mother, daughter of a self-made New York millionaire. Blenheim Palace and grounds (by Capability Brown) is a romantic spot for wooing heiresses.

Future Gregory Clark titles to follow A Farewell to Alms and The Son Also Rises will hopefully include:

For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls
The Old Man and the g
A Provable Least
Depose? No, Kill Him Tomorrow
A Clean, Well-Lighted Race
The Big Uncharted Giver
To Have and Have Not (okay, I can't think of any more bad or nonsensical puns, but Hemingway's cheesiest novel sounds like an economics text anyway)
   

75 comments:

Black Sea said...

Across the Giver and into the Fees.

Steve Sailer said...

I was working on "Across the Giver and into the Goods ['Hoods?]," but that's the song about to Grandma's house we go, not the Hemingway novel.

Anonymous said...

For Whom the Belle Toils (Roissy)

Anonymous said...

Hoover used to be a big name.

The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Lincolns-American-Family/dp/1402771215

Fall of the House of Usher
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fall_of_the_House_of_Usher

A conspiracy theorist might suggest the public school system is the tool used to control social mobility. These days to reduce it. See John Taylor Gatto for details on how that might work.

Anonymous said...

I think he got the title from Laura Betzig's review of his former book: http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/ep05733739.pdf

Anonymous said...

Wonder how he shows it's genetic, and not "privilege". Even if you're a fourth son out on your own, your father may extend recommendations.
Robert Hume

Anonymous said...

Some forty years ago, when the academic studies first began, the spin on Swedish social mobility in the late middle ages was that it was much higher than the stereotypical picture of feudal ranking might suggest. The standard conclusion was that for reasons not entirely clear Swedish culture of the time had a strong egalitarian streak. Evidently the new spin is to emphasize the rigidity and say that that Swedish society of the time is just like everywhere else, with little social mobility. Then draw the standard Rawlesian solution and argue that because most of us are doomed to be non-entitities the only fair and reasonable thing to do is reward non-entities with the same perks as the people who are actually improving the human condition.

Reg Cæsar said...

Is social, or economic, mobility different in homogeneous societies than in diverse ones? Isn't the next genius to come out of Hong Kong more likely to come from outside the establishment than the next genius from Jakarta, who will almost certainly come from the Chinese minority?

Anonymous said...

The reason HBD doesn't interest all that many people is because it's a study of biological determinism and thus falls into the category of factual but useless information. What people want to know is how they can overcome their biological limitations and punch above their weight. Nobody needs to be reminded of his physical and mental limits, he deals with it day in and day out. This, and not political correctness, is why Gladwell gets so many readers - he's merely the modern incarnation of Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, with what appears to be a thin (illusory?) veneer of academic rigor backing him up.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that weirded English people out about Margaret Thatcher being Prime Minister was that even after 700 years or so, "Thatcher" was still a pretty downscale name.

That's a joke, right?

Anonymous said...

A Tale of Two Bitties

Anonymous said...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Genealogy

The Anti-Gnostic said...

What is the explanation for the prevalence of "Smith" in the United States?

MJM said...

So, essentially, assuming a level playing field in all other respects, inherited traits (like intelligence) may cause the winners to "take all". But we have to be careful to let the losers have some, too. That is the essential threat that is behind most social welfare spending: the threat of violence from those who cannot or will not perform.

Anonymous said...

Clark argues that since a greater part of our place in the world is predetermined, we must avoid creating winner-take-all societies.

How's that working for us lately?

Anonymous said...

Hemingway used lines from poetry Faulkner used lines from Shakespeare and common prayer our semi educated generattion just puns titles from erudite authors

Anonymous said...

Quick and the dead for example comes. From the creed in the book of common prayer

dearieme said...

I can remember somebody remarking that many of Mrs T's cabinet had occupation names - Thatcher, Baker, Clarke, and so on. But looking down this list I don't see any such feature.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Thatcher_ministers_1979–90

Hunsdon said...

The novel was cheesy, but the movie was a snapshot of Hollywood superstars at the time. Bogart, Bacall, Breannan, Hoagy Carmichael, directed by Howard Hawks from a screenplay adaptation by William Faulkner.

"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?"

Anonymous said...

Working paper and graph here:
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2012/02/greg-clark-are-there-ruling-classes.html

irishman said...

So the Sailers is still a ropemakers?

Anonymous said...

http://blogs.rollcall.com/wgdb/reid-schumer-encouraged-by-boehner-immigration-push/

Power Child said...

Hills Like White Privilege

Anonymous said...

"Thatcher" was still a pretty downscale name.."

likely not a problem anymore - I'd like to see how many Thatcher's there are now in England, compared to Patels and Choudrys

Anonymous said...

Still copying

http://blogs.wsj.com/scene/2014/01/14/how-pop-culture-influences-chinese-travelers/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2FPuXkOPuM

Anonymous said...

The reason: the huge popularity of the Chinese romantic comedy “Finding Mr. Right,” in which a woman from mainland China travels to Seattle to give birth. Directed by Xue Xiaolu and starring Tang Wei, the film has grossed more than $85 million in China since its release last year. (The movie’s Chinese title translates literally to “Beijing meets Seattle.”)

------

I just hope the tourists are not giving birth.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/01/developing-countries-are-more-than-economic-rivals-and-terror-threats/283147/

Zzzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

http://www.thebeaverton.com/chris-hadfield-ejected-from-movie-theatre-for-loudly-heckling-gravity.htm

Anonymous said...

http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/sandra-bullock-missing-big-girl-2784564#.UtlIhdJdVA0

Anonymous said...

What about Erich Remarque?

http://srtown5.tripod.com/

"Kat turns his eyes to heaven,lets off a mighty fart, and says meditatively: 'every little bean must be heard as well as seen'."

The Cowenian future. 'Hear my beans', the slogan of the new mass rebellion.

-----

Those who dine on caviar and crackers.

Those who subsist on beans and crackers.

But hey, they do have much in common. They both eat crackers.



Art Deco said...

it takes hundreds of years for descendants to shake off the advantages and disadvantages of their ancestors.

Hundreds of years? For the record, 80% of the British Peerage have titles which do not antedate the House of Hanover (i.e. a time when all but one of the colonies of British North America had been founded). And how many of these families are broke or have a mass of real estate they cannot afford to take care of?

Anonymous said...

"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."

It all depends on how one defines class mobility.

I mean who can deny the great rise of newly rich and middle classes in India and China in the past 30 yrs?

And Jews seem to defy the rules all the time.

-----

Paradoxically, the erosion of rigid class structures--or at least rigid class structural mentality--may have rendered upward class mobility even less likely for some people.

While rigid class rules prevent the rise of lower groups, rigid class Mentality makes the lower elements look up to higher classes as more respectable, as something to aspire to and emulate.
Feelings of inferiority and the desire to be like and be liked by the superiors are likely to focus one's social and economic energies on being socially better and higher. Thus, more achievement and habits that may lead to success.

But in a more permissive and tolerant society, a lower class slob is allowed or even encouraged to be stupid, lazy, crazy, and ridiculous without shame. He doesn't think himself as less than the social superiors, and so, there is no emotional incentive to clean up his act--and those of his children--to better his own lot, to be sober and more responsible.

------

As neo-respectability is defined by pc and 'gay marriage', more cons might be discouraged from seeking success that is now so identified with bobo-ism(Brooks).

Respectability is always censorious to some degree. It used to stand for general values in the past, something even the poor could relate to and aspire to. Now, it's specialty values of decadent privilege.

Anonymous said...

Democracy could mean the freedom of everyone to rise higher.

It could also mean the complacency of everyone to just be a Walmart shopper.

Those with maker/seller mentality tend to rise high.

Those with worker mentality tend to rise somewhat.

Those with consumer mentality tend to stay the same.

Portlander said...

Would have thought it was obvious... :)

"The Haves and Have Nots"

Art Deco said...

One of the things that weirded English people out about Margaret Thatcher being Prime Minister was that even after 700 years or so, "Thatcher" was still a pretty downscale name.

Really?

--

The last peer to hold the prime minister's office was Lord Cecil, who departed in 1902. Since then, Britain has had 26 prime ministers.

4 came out of the peerage and gentry (though only one had a title)

3 came out of the business patriciate

1 came from an influential (but fairly impecunious family)

15 came out of various strata within the bourgeoisie.

2 came from the borderlands of the working class and the petty bourgeois

1 came out of the working class (from a poor and disgraced family to boot).

Seems a few downscale (or not very upscale) people do passably well in British politics.

rightsaidfred said...

we must avoid creating winner-take-all societies...societies should act to limit the disparities in rewards between those of high and low social rank

Too late. We're screwed.

Yavor Stefanov said...

I'm inclined to believe the premise and theory behind the book, but how does that square with regression to the mean? Can someone please explain? Would there have to be an unbroken chain of successful and successive assortative mating to keep the effect going?

countenance said...

Thatcher's maiden name was Roberts. Is that more or less classy than Thatcher?

Portlander said...

LOL ... "For Whom the Belle Toils"

Good one, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Clark's title is sexist! He's in big trouble!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like what Clarke finds is that surnames rise and fall at about the same rate in most societies.

I think the assumption that this is because of the same reasons is probably wrong (in some societies surnames rise and fall because they happen to be associated with intelligence, in others certain kinds of unethical behavior, etc).

Also, the range of social inequality is very different between societies, so this is no reason to be sanguine about inequality.

Further, correlations between income and social status and intelligence and ability are not so hot in our society (the top 1 in a million in wealth sure as fuck isn't the top 1 in a million in ability, or even from the top 1 in a million lineage).

And to the extent they are, it doesn't justify treating people who inherit less intelligence more harshly.

Anonymous said...

My Anglo-Norman family (Washbourne) has been decidedly upper middle class for eons back as far as we can trace them to Denmark before the Norman invasion of Normandy, despite all manner of events such as having to fight for power and lands in Normandy and England, the loss of our hereditary estates and titles in Gloucestershire over time, immigration to the new world, migration from Connecticut to upstate New York circa 1800, participation in the shocking senseless barbarity of the American Civil War, immigration from New York to Canada at the turn of last century and return, and modern times movement all about the country by the last four generations in search of work.

It certainly didn't come naturally to hold on to our position in society, and required much hard work on the part of the males of the family in school and business in every single generation so as to avoid dissipation, as well as ensuring the production of one or more male heirs by the females to carry on the lineage.

So whatever could have overcome all these obstacles and challenges generation after generation, and continually secured the mating advantage of a wedding to a fellow upper middle class female previously provisioned by her family with education, resources, and assets? Its not as though we are "rich" with hidden millions. We just aren't "poor". But we also have never been paycheck-to-paycheck people. Each generation has always managed to take the little bit of assets it has in its youth and use its education and ability to make them grow so as to secure comfort in life.

Dare we suggest there might be something genetic to higher intelligence and the innate desire among people of higher intelligence to mate with others of like mind and ability, and thus produce heirs of above average intelligence? Maybe even something genetic about a diligent disposition to study and work, so as to put the intelligence to work at a profit rather than kicking back and consuming the fruits of capital built up by prior ancestors? Could there even be a genetic disposition to thirft and saving?

Could this "shcoking" supposition of genetic heritage also be behind the centruies of success seen in Chinese, Indian, and Jewish merchant families, just as seen in NW European ones?

Isn't it also likely that such genetic traits will always win out over free handouts to keep the less diligent and less intelligent "equal"? Those less disposed to save and work will never be economically equal to those who are, since you cannot get rich by spending money and not working.

DR said...

One thing related to Clark's research is that traditionally studies of hereditary human behavior divide the categories into "genetic", "shared environment" and "non-shared environment."

The latter category is definitely a misnomer in my opinion. It's simply the error term in the regression, i.e. the variance which is not explainable by any of the factors (usually biological parent/identical twin or adopted parent/siblings). Automatically assuming that this variance is due to non-shared environment is just wrong.

For one there's genetic noise even if you look at a biological parent's attributes. You receive a random collection of 50% of your mother and father's genome. You might get lucky or unlucky and receive an unusually good or bad batch of genes. This definitely creates noise in the regression, noise that although genetic in nature is attributed to environment.

Clark's work with long-running surnames is revolutionary because it shows that we're probably highly underestimating the genetic share of the variation. Going back more than one generation helps reduce the genetic noise in the estimation. And when done so we find that in many cases the variance explained by genetics rises from 30-40% to 70-80%.

Anonymous said...

The extinction of Abraham Lincolm (actually Abraham Enloe) line shows lower class and upper class do not mix. The last lincolns show almost a vicious aversion to procreate, and the very last Lincoln descendant even sued to deny parentage of his second wife's child.

It seems all of them wanted the Lincoln line to end. I do not understand but that is how the blood of lower class injected inti the upper class is purged.

Anonymous said...

The short and happy heyday of Francis Fukuyama.

Why nobody has thought about that?

5371 said...

Amusingly, Mrs. T's father was believed by many to be the son of Henry Cust, a gentleman close to several duchesses and countesses, and a housemaid.
But Clark's arguments were pretty flimsy when he just wrote about England, I shudder to think what became of them with Sweden and China in the mix.

Steve Sailer said...

The Seilers were ropemakers. When one of them became mayor of a small town in Switzerland, they became the Sailers. It was like changing your name from Smith to Smythe.

Steve Sailer said...

By the way, Gregory Clark's last name comes from guys who were literate clerks around 1300, as are Clarke and Palmer. Nathaniel Weyl found, along with Clarke and Palmer, that it is still associated with being in the intelligentsia after 650 years. I don't know how much to believe that or if it's an example of data mining. But perhaps Weyl's analysis is what got Clark interested in this topic.

Power Child said...

Hemingway's cats haven't shaken off the disadvantage of their ancestors.

That must be why Clark chose to base his puns on the author's titles.

Anonymous said...

Steve is quite right about surname snobbery in England.
Harold Nicholson thought his own surname lower class, which it was not, just Viking, and his extremely grand wife, daughter of Lord Sackville, was furious when Harold accepted a knighthood, an honour she thought hopelessly middle class.
Lady Diana Manners, daughter of the Duke of Rutland, swallowed her pride and married Duff Cooper, but at least his mother was the daughter of an earl. She loathed his later title "Viscount Norwich": viscountcies she thought second rate, and Norwich both an ugly name and a hopelessly provincial town. She refused to use it, and stayed Lady Diana Cooper.

Anonymous said...

Art Deco, was John Major the one 20th century PM who came from a working class family?

"What is the explanation for the prevalence of "Smith" in the United States?"

Surnames that translate as "Smith" are at the top of the frequency distributions in many European countries. The most common Russian surname is Kuznetsov (smith's). Smith is Schmidt in German, Herrero in Spanish, Ferrer in Catalan, Kowal and Kowalski in Polish, Kovacs in Hungarian. These are all very common surnames in their respective languages.

Presumably when surnames became sticky in the late Middle Ages most villages had one smith. If you mentioned Johnny, the smith's kid, everyone would know exactly whom you meant. It would be a unique identifier within the village universe. From there it's just one step to John Smith.

For Whom the Belle Toils (Roissy)

LOL!



Marissa said...

Hemingway used lines from poetry Faulkner used lines from Shakespeare and common prayer our semi educated generattion just puns titles from erudite authors

Shakespeare lifted many of his plots, characters, and sometimes even lines from previous plays.

I vaguely remember something from Nathaniel Hawthorne (House of the Seven Gables) regarding a "three-generational theory". That is, the first generation works extremely hard for its wealth, hoping to provide a more luxuriously lifestyle for their offspring. The second generation is dissolute from being spoiled, unused to working for their reward. Their children in turn, live a life of difficult poverty, realizing they must work hard, as the two generations past did, to bring themselves up (ostensibly to provide for the next generation's ruin).

Anonymous said...

Steve sounds so smart until you remember that Thatcher beat James Callaghan. Then you laugh at how he just makes this stuff up probably from a hazy rememberance of something he read about Ted Heath.

Burpleson AFB said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/01/developing-countries-are-more-than-economic-rivals-and-terror-threats/283147/

For most of the Cold War... the U.S. was happy to support pretty much any regime or rebel group that declared itself anti-communist. It was the continuation of a policy summed up by Franklin Roosevelt’s likely apocryphal quote about the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza García: “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

Ahh yes, that noted anti-communist attack dog Franklin Roosevelt

Dahinda said...

Disney is a Norman name.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Presumably when surnames became sticky in the late Middle Ages most villages had one smith. If you mentioned Johnny, the smith's kid, everyone would know exactly whom you meant.

Yes, I know that part of it. But why such a high frequency distribution? Were smiths a lusty, successful lot?

One explanation I've heard is that most trades used the appellation. If you were a working man, you were probably a "--smith" of some sort.

Anybody know?

Art Deco said...

Art Deco, was John Major the one 20th century PM who came from a working class family?

No. Ramsey MacDonald.

Marissa said...

For most of the Cold War... the U.S. was happy to support pretty much any regime or rebel group that declared itself anti-communist.

According to the work of Antony C. Sutton, the U.S. government was happy to support the Soviets too.

Reg Cæsar said...

Millers outnumber smiths as surnames in modern Germany. Not brewers, though. Too common a descriptor!

dearieme said...

Why aren't there more "wright" names? There must have been plenty of wheelwrights, shipwrights and so forth, but only Wright and Cartwright seem at all common.

pat said...

The reason HBD doesn't interest all that many people is because it's a study of biological determinism and thus falls into the category of factual but useless information.

Exactly right! That's the same reason I reject the notion of gravity. What the bathroom scale shows is useless information.

To hell with biological determinism. I want my cheesecake.

And I have a whole lot more authors of best selling weight loss books to cite than you do with your one miserable reference to Malcolm Gladwell.

Abertosaurus

cyril said...

"Clark reveals that mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, do not vary across societies, and are resistant to social policies."

So, Clark is arguing against Murray's The Bell Curve, which argues that social policies (the SAT, general postwar meritocratic reforms, etc.) resulted in increased social mobility -- but unfortunately those mobile generations are turning into hereditary castes. Clark, on the other hand, says that policy-greased, accelerated mobility over the past 50 years is an illusion. That's hard to believe.

Either he's taking down Murray, or the jacket text is grossly misleading.

Anonymous said...

Palmer is one who made apilgramage to the holy land --"palm" ss in palm tree

Hunsdon said...

Marissa said: I vaguely remember something from Nathaniel Hawthorne (House of the Seven Gables) regarding a "three-generational theory".

Hunsdon said: I've always heard it (non-attributed) as "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations."

James Kabala said...

I have a hard time believing that Thatcher is any more plebeian than Wilson, Heath, or (worst of all) Callaghan.

Anonymous said...

"Shakespeare lifted many of his plots, characters, and sometimes even lines from previous plays."

Since we are talking about upper class names and IQ, "Shakespeare" was categorically not written by that illiterate frontman from Stratford, but rather by Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, one of the most highly educated, well traveled and intelligent Elizabethan aristocrats.

Anon.

irishman said...

"Thatcher's maiden name was Roberts. Is that more or less classy than Thatcher?"

"James Kabala said...
I have a hard time believing that Thatcher is any more plebeian than Wilson, Heath, or (worst of all) Callaghan."

No disrespect, but I think this might be an American perspective. If you hear Thatcher with a cut-glass English accent such as the one she of most news presenters had in those days, one might think Thatcher was not so declassé, but to most English people hearing it pronounced in a working class accent it sounds hopelessly common and unsophisticated.

ben tillman said...

Why aren't there more "wright" names? There must have been plenty of wheelwrights, shipwrights and so forth, but only Wright and Cartwright seem at all common.

I've known many more Boatwrights/Boatrights than Cartwrights in the US. There's also Arkwright, which I've never heard except on TV ("Open All Hours"), but a Google search shows that there are real people with that name.

Anonymous said...

Lady Diana Manners, daughter of the Duke of Rutland

She was actually the daughter of Henry Cust, whom commenter "5371" mentioned earlier in the thread.

Art Deco said...

If you hear Thatcher with a cut-glass English accent such as the one she of most news presenters had in those days, one might think Thatcher was not so declassé, but to most English people hearing it pronounced in a working class accent it sounds hopelessly common and unsophisticated.

As opposed to Blair, Smith, Kinnock, Foot, Callaghan, Howard, Hague, Major, Heath, Eden, and Churchill uttered in Cockney, Geordie, or Scouser? Change one variable at a time please.

Anonymous said...

"A conspiracy theorist might suggest the public school system is the tool used to control social mobility."

Indeed. Originally to increase it, now to reduce it.

.

"What is the explanation for the prevalence of "Smith" in the United States?"

Blacksmith would have been a top job once and so heavily competed for, ergo brains, plus required health and brawn so a good all round mixture.

.

"So, essentially, assuming a level playing field in all other respects, inherited traits (like intelligence) may cause the winners to "take all". But we have to be careful to let the losers have some, too. That is the essential threat that is behind most social welfare spending: the threat of violence from those who cannot or will not perform."

Nope. A winner takes all society destroys itself.

Intelligent but really greedy people can't see it's the equivalent of eating all your seeds. If you eat all your seeds you starve.

.

"I'm inclined to believe the premise and theory behind the book, but how does that square with regression to the mean? Can someone please explain? Would there have to be an unbroken chain of successful and successive assortative mating to keep the effect going?"

I'd expect so but there's also random switching off of genes so even that wouldn't necessarily be enough. You'd need repeated assortative mating *and* lots of nepotism to cover those generations when the good genes were switched off.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109143756.htm

Paxwell Mower said...

Well... The notion of Margaret Thatcher dogged by her husband's low-rent last name certainly gets my vote for Scientific Idea Ready for Retirement

irishman said...

"Art Deco said...
If you hear Thatcher with a cut-glass English accent such as the one she of most news presenters had in those days, one might think Thatcher was not so declassé, but to most English people hearing it pronounced in a working class accent it sounds hopelessly common and unsophisticated.

As opposed to Blair, Smith, Kinnock, Foot, Callaghan, Howard, Hague, Major, Heath, Eden, and Churchill uttered in Cockney, Geordie, or Scouser? Change one variable at a time please."
Yes, other than Thatcher is a class apart from all of them. The only one you could argue for is Smith, but that's too common to be included.

There was a British satire of Thatcher type women called keeping up appearances which captured the essence of this discussion perfectly.

Art Deco said...

There was a British satire of Thatcher type women called keeping up appearances which captured the essence of this discussion perfectly.

Except Mrs. Buckett in "Keeping up Appearances" is a childless housewife and comical social climber graced with a long-suffering (bourgeois) husband and some fairly vulgar proximate relations. Margaret Roberts and Denis Thatcher were bourgeois by birth, she of the lower middle class and he of the upper middle class. She had multiple university degrees and he was a wealthy man when he married her. She was an accomplished professional woman, not a clowenette obsessed with flower-arranging.

John Demick said...

It is also important to note, that I disagree with Clark's final conclusion that social policies don't change the big picture much, which may be true in you look at relative status within a country, but not true if you look at relative status between countries. For example, If you look at Polish history, after the Partitions of Poland, Russia was successful in financially ruining much of the nobility, to the point where over half became landless, and it only became worse for them with each failed revolution. Perhaps they were still better off than peasants, but total income can still be influenced greatly by social policy.

What Clark is basing social status on is relative status, so elite surnames will on average be of higher status, but if your average income is $30k, and the average income of an elite surname is 20% more than average (36k), than what's the real point? To put it in an extreme perspective (like 19th century Poland), if poor social policy makes most of your countrymen starving, but your genetic inheritance grants you an ability to scrap by in such an environment, then what's the point?

To put it short, Clark is opening up a very dangerous can of worms when he is saying that we shouldn't worry too much about social policy (coming from an economist, that is rich). Of course we should, especially ones that build are economy and keep us all from falling to the pits.