Gregory Clark (GC) is a world-renowned researcher in Quantitative Economic History, who has published two widely cited books on international economic history: A Farewell to Alms – A Brief Economic History of the World (Princeton UP, 2007); and The Son Also Rises: Surnames and Social Mobility (Princeton UP, 2014).
There is great interest in measuring intergenerational social mobility across time and space – and Gregory Clark, across both his published academic work and forthcoming book, has devised innovative means to correct the measurement errors which frequently bedevil work on the study of social mobility, methods which involve observations on multiple relatives and multiple generations. His findings lead to the conclusion that social mobility is extremely slow in England, has not changed its rate over more than 300 years, and has been unaffected by modern social interventions.
The key research idea, which has led to his moving to the Economics Department of the University of Southern Denmark, is to apply Clark’s innovative techniques to the Human Capital of the Nordic Countries (HCNC) database (funded by the Carlsberg Foundation to PI prof. Paul Sharp at SDU) over multiple generations in Denmark and Norway, spanning 1790 to 1940. The application of Clark’s methods to this rich data set – which contains far greater information than the English data Clark has previously used – has the potential to fundamentally recast the way social science conceives of social mobility. This research, which will look at, for example, the impact of important social interventions in history on social and educational mobility, such as access of women to higher education, and the introduction of the welfare state, will produce important policy implications for present-day intervention.