The mechanisms of long-run elite persistence

01 October 2023 → 30 September 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Applied economics not elsewhere classified
    • Economic history
    • Mathematical and quantitative methods not elsewhere classified
    • Microeconomics not elsewhere classified
Elite persistence Economic history Intergenerational mobility
Project description

To what extent do outcomes in life depend upon one’s ancestors? Recent studies appear to suggest that on the long run ancestry significantly impacts outcomes such as income, education levels or elite occupations. This persistence of elites is explained by the inheritance of a latent variable called `status’. However, no consensus exists on which mechanisms are responsible for the observed status persistence. Furthermore, insufficient attention has gone to the different impact status has on different outcomes, both over time and across societies. This proposal aims to advance knowledge on the long-term persistence of elites by a) innovating the methodology to allow for combining multiple outcomes within one framework in measuring status persistence and allowing a variable impact of status on outcomes; b) analyzing whether repression targeting elites can be successful in limiting elites’ success; c) considering 8 mechanisms for the persistence of elites, and narrowing down the list of potential mechanisms suggested by the literature. In WP1 the methodology will be developed by using a multitude of sources for Russia from 1914 to 2022. WP2 aims to analyze whether repression during Stalin’s Great Purge diminished the over-representation of pre-revolutionary elites among military officer ranks. Finally, the mediating effect of 8 mechanisms of long-run persistence are tested in WP3, by examining Russian migrants to the US between 1917 and 2006, among others using US census data.