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CentrePiece article
What's in a Name? Information on Intergenerational Mobility
Maia Güell, José V. Rodríguez Mora and Chris Telmer
February 2008
Paper No' CEPCP246:
Full Paper (pdf)

CentrePiece 12 (3) Winter 2008

It is very difficult to measure changes in economic and social mobility across generations and to make comparisons across societies. Research by Maia Güell, José V. Rodríguez Mora and Chris Telmer finds that surnames can provide valuable insights into the importance of family background for people's outcomes in later life.

The more a surname tells us about the wellbeing of an individual, the less intergenerational mobility there is in that society. For example, in the UK 50 years ago, just using surnames would allow you to predict that Windsors would be wealthy half a century hence. But you would have been wrong to predict the wealth of the Rooneys or the Beckhams using surnames alone.

This article summarises Intergenerational Mobility and the Informative Content of Surnames by Maia Güell, José V. Rodríguez Mora and Chris Telmer, CEP Discussion Paper No. 810
This paper has been published as:
The Informational Content of Surnames, the Evolution of Intergenerational Mobility, and Assortative Mating, Maia Guell, Jose V. Rodriguez Mora and Christopher I. Telmer, Review of Economic Studies, Volume 82, Issue 1, April 2015