Professor of economics at the University of California-Davis and an editor of The European Review of Economic History, Dr. Gregory Clark is also a research associate at the Center for Poverty Research at Davis. Author of The Sun Also Rises: Surnames and History of Social Mobility—a book that the NY Times referred to as “incendiary”—Dr. Clark used surnames to “track the rich and poor through many generations” in many countries and on several continents.
In his eye-opening conversation on Smart Talk, Dr. Clark points out that social mobility has occurred but “at a very slow rate. It can take several centuries for it to occur.” In addition, he points out that “As much as 60% of the variation in social position in each generation is inherited.”
The author of A Farewell to Alms, A Brief Economic History of the Worldalso discusses the cultural and genetic roots of the Industrial Revolution, pointing out that after the Industrial Revolution, the success of nations was based on the quality of their productivity and their “efficient use of knowledge. … Factors such as capital and land became unimportant moving into the 20th century.” According to Dr. Clark, America has had higher income than other societies “because people work harder by putting in more hours.” This advantage has helped attract the most talented people from all over the globe. At the same time, “It entices people at the bottom end of society to migrate to America, which can cause a development of unequal societies.”