Friday, February 27, 2009

Guess which surnames died out in pre-industrial England?   posted by Herrick @ 2/27/2009 05:42:00 PM

The surnames of the criminal and the poor, of course. Greg Clark provides new evidence for the "survival of the richest" here (and he thanks Nick Wade for the idea). From the abstract:

[E]vidence from...surnames...again shows the takeover of English society by the economically successful between 1600 and 1851, and the disappearance of the criminal and the poor. A man's economic success in pre-industrial England predicted a permanent increase of his surname frequency, and hence his gene frequency, by 1851.

Confession: I, for one, had no idea that Elvis was a surname.

Clark's papers have familiarized economists with the basics of genetics. It seems to be paying off: At the American Economic Association meetings this year, there was a session on brain evolution in the very long run, another on genetics and microeconomic behavior, and a third GNXP-friendly session where Clark presented the above-quoted paper.