April 9, 2014
I have a lot of notes left over unused from my review in Taki's Magazine of Gregory Clark's The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility. So, in no particular order:
The low social mobility seen under the Swedish welfare state over the last 75-80 years despite good public education and health care and all that might have something to do with the welfare state discouraging ambition and risk-taking. And/or it might have something to do with the Swedes sitting out WWII and much of the Cold War, which tended to open careers to talent in more active participants.
Here in the U.S., perhaps the most broadly accomplished surname on average is Huntington, almost all of whom trace back to a Puritan widow and her sons who arrived in Massachusetts in the 1630s. It's not a coincidence that one of the few elite voices against mass immigration in this century was Harvard Professor Samuel P. Huntington, who pointed out that his ancestors and their relatives had done a pretty good job building a nation even without much Mexican help.
Clark goes to some pains to distinguish the surnames of French Canadian-Americans from French-Americans. For example, Gagnon is 42 times more common per capita in Canada than in France, so Americans named Gagnon are mostly of French Canadian descent.
On the other hand, French Huguenots (Protestants) tended to do better in America. For example, Winston Churchill's American mother's maiden name was Jerome, and traces back to a Huguenot immigrant.
By Steve Sailer on 4/09/2014