“Genetics Are More Important Than How Hard You Work” | Summary and Q&A

January 14, 2024
Chris Williamson
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“Genetics Are More Important Than How Hard You Work”


Social status is strongly inherited over the course of 400 years, with no change in social mobility. Genetic correlation predicts how correlated individuals will be in terms of social outcomes, challenging conventional beliefs.

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Key Insights

  • ❓ Social status is strongly inherited, contrary to conventional beliefs.
  • ❓ Genetic correlation is a significant predictor of social outcomes.
  • 🖐️ Mothers and fathers play equal roles in determining outcomes, except for wealth.
  • 🥳 Birth order has minimal influence on social outcomes, except for elite families.
  • 👪 Family size affects wealth, with larger families experiencing a decline in wealth.
  • 👪 Meeting parents is not necessary for them to have an influence on outcomes.
  • 🛟 The study's observations do not provide direct proof but offer surprising ancillary evidence of genetic transmission in social life.


what's this new paper of yours about the inheritance of social status so the paper looks at 425,000 people in England over the course of 400 years who are all linked together by descent and marriage and just asks what describes how you inherit social status and it ends up that there are actually three very interesting aspects one is that there's a ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How were genetics tracked over such a long period of time?

The study relied on genealogical records and predictions based on genetic models of transmission. Societies like the guil of one-name studies tracked people's genealogy over hundreds of years, providing valuable data.

Q: Are mothers and fathers equally influential in determining outcomes for children?

Yes, the study finds that mothers and fathers play the same role in terms of outcomes for their children, except for wealth. Fathers have a greater impact on wealth due to historical patterns of inheritance.

Q: Does birth order affect social outcomes?

Surprisingly, birth order does not significantly impact social outcomes, except for the oldest son in elite families who tends to inherit more wealth and have higher education opportunities.

Q: Does family size influence outcomes?

Family size has little impact on outcomes, except for wealth. Larger families from wealthy backgrounds tend to see a decline in wealth since it gets divided among more heirs.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The study examines 425,000 people in England over 400 years to understand how social status is inherited.

  • The research reveals a strong inheritance of social status, with no increase in social mobility over time.

  • Surprisingly, genetic correlation is a key factor in predicting the correlation between individuals, suggesting a simple model of genetic transmission.

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