Social outcomes are substantially determined at birth

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Gregory Clark’s latest (pre-print) paper, For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls, argues that a lineage of 400,000 English individuals 1750-2020 shows genetics determines most social outcomes:

It is generally assumed that the elements that define social status — occupational status, educational attainment, wealth, and even health — are transmitted across generations in important ways by the family environment. Above we show that the patterns of correlation of social status attributes in an extended lineage of 402,000 people in England are mainly those that would be predicted by simple additive genetic inheritance of social status in the presence of highly assortative mating around status genetics. Parent-child correlations for a trait equal those of siblings, and the patterns of correlation of relatives of different degrees of genetic affinity is mainly consistent with that predicted by additive genetics. Further family size and birth order, elements that would significantly affect the family environment for children, have modest effects on adult outcomes. The underlying persistence of traits is such that people who have likely never interacted socially, such as second to fifth cousins, remain surprisingly strongly correlated in terms of occupational status and wealth. The patterns observed imply that marital sorting must be strong in terms of the underlying genetics.

If this interpretation is correct then aspirations that by appropriate social design, rates of social mobility can be substantially increased will prove futile. We have to be resigned to living in a world where social outcomes are substantially determined at birth. Personally I would argue that this should push us towards compressing differences in income and wealth that are the product of such inherited characteristics. The Nordic model of the good society looks a lot more attractive than the Texan one.


  1. Kirk says:

    Again with the utter lack of connection between observed fact and the actual underlaying causal factors… If there are any.

    The authors frame the issue as “unfair”. I would frame it as “poor adaptation to environment”, and what does evolution’s selective hand do with those organisms which are poorly adapted and unsuited to an environment…?

    Instead of framing this as some sort of unfair advantage, the correct way to look at this is to say “Gee, I wonder why this group does well, and that group does poorly… How do we help the second group adapt better and more speedily to the environment?”.

    In other words, instead of saddling society with a bunch of malodourous cretins masquerading as competent members of society (the solution that affirmative action actually results in…), one should instead focus on making sure that the “disadvantaged” are offered the opportunity to better themselves. Can’t pass the firefighters tests, ones that are fairly administered and actually pertinent to the job? No firefighter jobs for you, my friend–No matter how few of your similarly-pigmented friends and relations fail the damn test.

    What the actual issue is would be that modern civilization requires a certain set of attributes and skills to do well inside it. Lack those? Well, I’m sad for you, but if you can’t mimic what’s required, then the kindest thing for you and your genes is to be culled quickly and painlessly from the breeding pool, and allow what is successful to flourish.

    Instead, we insist on dragging everything down to the lowest common denominator, while simultaneously uplifting the unworthy and incompetent to positions of responsibility and power, ignoring their manifest lack of qualification or actual attainments.

    This is how a civilization dies–In the maudlin whimperings of spoiled little girls saying “It isn’t fair…”.

    Frankly, we deserve what’s coming. I just hope I’m around to see what the Gods of the Copybook Headings mete out in terms of justice to these wreckers.

  2. Paul from Canada says:

    Yes, I am absolutely gobsmacked by the latest BS, that math is inherently racist. That is racist to expect minority students to show their work and actually get the right answer…..

    Given that math is universal, and contributions to our current math knowledge come from ancient Greece, India, China and a bunch of other places, I cannot understand how anyone can rationally come to that conclusion.

    I work in aviation. There is a huge amount of math. Now granted, much of it is now automated, but getting the right answer, for example on takeoff performance calculation, is not a matter of “fairness” or “feelings”, it is potentially a matter of life or death.

    Every year I get a checkout from the government, and if I were to fail, I would get suspended for 30 days and re-tested, and if I filed again, I would lose my license and get fired. Again, “fairness” and “feelings” don’t come into it.

    I am the training and designated check Dispatcher at my company, and I have seen several promising candidates get hired, but it takes a certain mentality and certain abilities, some of them likely innate to do my job, and lots of people can’t. So I have had to fail those people and they no longer work in aviation operations.

    How telling a kid black or otherwise, that math is racist and he does not need to work hard at it, and that standards will be lowered for him is automatically preventing him from a potential career in aviation.

    Same with the BS that punctuality is a “white” and “western” concept.

    Both of these would come as a great surprise to Chinese and Indian mathematicians and engineers…..

    Merit matters. I wanted to be a military pilot, and I came close, but at the end of the day I was not quite good enough. Sucks to be me, but an effective airforce is more important than my “feelings”.

    I might really-really-really want to be a theoretical physicist, inspired by reading Stephen Hawking’s books as a teenager. But no matter how much I might really-really-really want it, I am just not intelligent enough or good enough at math to ever do it.

  3. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Let’s stipulate that people who are related to the rich & powerful (children, cousins, whatever) are more likely to be rich and powerful themselves than those who have no such relations. Hunter Biden might be a classic example of the phenomenon.

    Hypothesis One — it’s mainly genetics. Hunter inherited the “Get rich off the peons” from his dad.

    Hypothesis Two — nepotism. Hunter got steered into lots of good deals by “Mr. 10%”.

    It is not obvious how one would distinguish between those two hypotheses, no matter how many English people (or Bidens) one looked at.

    Side comment on math being “racist” — which is always understood to mean that blacks don’t do well, not that Asians do superbly. I have have the pleasure of working with a number of Nigerians who have had outstanding mathematical abilities. But they did not consider themselves unusually talented compared to their peers in Nigeria. The problems US blacks have with math probably have more to do with our failing educational system than with any genetic factor.

  4. Christian says:

    Gavin Longmuir,

    What does the heavy lifting in distinguishing your two hypotheses is the research on twins. If identical twins exhibit more Hunter-Biden-y-ness than do fraternal twins, this suggests hypothesis one, and furthermore the effect can be measured within such studies.

    Have to remember the research is looking at populations though, not anecdotes.

  5. Craig says:

    There was actually an excellent 50-second video on TikTok (by a hot mom to boot!) which illustrates this point succinctly:

  6. Harry Jones says:

    It helps to have a genetic code which correlates with that of the gatekeepers… until Genghis Khan comes along.

    If Genghis ever complained that life was unfair, I’m not aware of it.

    Moral: elites regress to the mean over time. And they don’t know it.

  7. VXXC says:

    Agenda anyone?

    Of course. He found what he wanted to find or was paid to find. I wonder if he’s lived in either ‘Nordic’ or Texas. I have lived in TX and it’s not that bad. He wants redistribution and his study supports the result. Fiction. Like all who write or study he sings for his supper.

    I’ve seen kids you’d swear end dead or in prison be taken out of that environment and be fine. I’ve seen less but still some rich kids who went south, outside of the really lower ranges of intelligence environment and family, family and fathers are the key.

    “Nordic model of the good society looks a lot more attractive than the Texan one.”

    Well. You'll get your Nordic model alright, that being Continental and Central Europe say about 1933–1945. We need to clear the air, then make peace. Nordic model. Asshole.

    These asshats always seem to skip that the European models were peace treaties after revolutions or 1945 — which was of course imposed by USA, with the USSR as the alternative.

  8. VXXC says:

    “Frankly, we deserve what’s coming. I just hope I’m around to see what the Gods of the Copybook Headings mete out in terms of justice to these wreckers.”

    Congratulations on not getting killed. We both get our wish. I too want to see the look on their faces as reality crashes like a tidal wave.

    Report from DC: the Deep State and Banksters are now running the USG and the American domestic government. That’s why you see the Green Zone, I was there, the razor wire wasn’t photoshopped.

    My PMC friends got USA jobs now.

    Me and my friends, many of whom will die and probably me too…we’re fine.

    We actually DO enjoy this shit.

    The rest of you are fucked.

    And Kirk’s right, we deserve it. Even if we don’t, hell we NEED IT.

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