Dr Neil Cummins, an economic historian from LSE, says that despite significant political, industrial, social and economic changes over the past eight centuries, social mobility in England has been much slower.
“Just take the names of the Normans who conquered England nearly 1000 years ago. Surnames such as Baskerville, Darcy, Mandeville and Montgomery are still over-represented at Oxbridge and also among elite occupations such as medicine, law and politics,” Dr Cummins says.
Research by Dr Cummins and Professor Gregory Clark from UC-Davis reveals that even mass publicly funded education and universal voting rights have not improved social mobility in England.
Through the study of the genealogical history of English families with rare surnames, using data provided by Ancestry.com, wealth, education and occupational status was highly heritable.
“What is surprising is that between 1800 and 2011 there have been substantial institutional changes in England but no gain in rates of social mobility for society as a whole.”