ICES Brown Bag for February 8

Events, Seminars | February 1, 2018

Join us for the next ICES Brown Bag Lecture of the semester, featuring John V.C. Nye.

Prof. Nye, of George Mason University, will discuss his paper Social Mobility in the Russia of the Revolutions: A Surname Study 1879-2016 (Abstract). The talk will take place on Thursday, February 8th, from 12:00 to 1:00pm, in room 5075 of the Vernon Smith Hall (formerly Metropolitan Building), Arlington campus.

Coffee and dessert will be provided.

Please visit the Brown Bag Schedule to learn more about the Brown Bag series.


In “The Son Also Rises”, Gregory Clark shows that social mobility rates can be measured parsimoniously for past societies using surname distributions, and that so measured, social mobility is both slow, and invariant to social institutions. Here we apply this method to Russia, using a rich dataset, students enrolling at Moscow State University, 1879-2016. Russian surname types pre-1917 did indeed vary in average social status, as measured by the shares enrolling at the university relative to the population shares in 1910 and using prisoner of war data from WWII. We also have access to the list of all students admitted to every Russian institution of higher learning 2011 to 2016 as well as their average test scores. In this preliminary paper we estimate social mobility rates for birth cohorts 1879-2016, and the effects of the Communist Revolution and the end of Communism 1991. But in future work we hope to estimate social mobility rates by decade 1880-2016. Our preliminary findings are that status persistence was present but noticeably below the levels obtained by Clark for all other countries studied to date, especially after WWI. Thus the Soviet and post-Soviet period do seem to have greatly increased social mobility in Russia unlike in other countries.

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