Italijanska ekonomista Guglielmo Barone in Sauro Mocetti sta za mesto Firence primerjala davčne podatke iz let 1427 in 2011. Ugotovila sta, da je medgeneracijska mobilnost na dolgi rok bistveno manjša, kot so raziskovalci domnevali pred tem na osnovi podatkov o mobilnosti za krajša obdobja. Priimki, ki po davčnih podatkih danes zaslužijo največ, so bili med premožnimi tudi pred šesto leti. (Barone, G and Mocetti, S (2016) “Intergenerational mobility in the very long run: Florence 1427-2011”, Bank of Italy working papers, 1060. – pdf)
Becker and Tomes (1986) argue that “almost all the earnings advantages or disadvantages of ancestors are wiped out in three generations”. In a recent paper we challenge this view (Barone and Mocetti 2016). We focus on the Italian city of Florence, for which data on taxpayers in 1427 – including surnames, occupations, earnings, and wealth – have been digitalised and made available online. We matched these data with those taken from the tax records relating to the city of Florence in 2011. Family dynasties are identified by surnames. … The top earners among the current taxpayers were already at the top of the socioeconomic ladder six centuries ago – they were lawyers or members of the wool, silk, and shoemaker guilds; their earnings and wealth were always above the median. In contrast, the poorest surnames had less prestigious occupations, and their earnings and wealth were below the median in most cases.
More rigorous empirical analysis confirms this evidence. When regressing the pseudo-descendant’s earnings on pseudo-ancestor’s earnings, the results are surprising: the long-run earnings elasticity is positive, statistically significant, and equals about 0.04. Stated differently, being the descendants of the Bernardi family (at the 90th percentile of earnings distribution in 1427) instead of the Grasso family (10th percentile of the same distribution) would entail a 5% increase in earnings among current taxpayers (after adjusting for age and gender). Intergenerational real wealth elasticity is significant too and the magnitude of its implied effect is even larger: the 10th-90th exercise entails more than a 10% difference today. Looking for non-linearities, we find, in particular, some evidence of the existence of a glass floor that protects the descendants of the upper class from falling down the economic ladder.
These results are new and remarkable and suggest that socioeconomic persistence is significant over six centuries. These results are even more surprising if we consider the huge political, demographic, and economic upheavals that have occurred over a so long a time span, and that were not able to untie the Gordian knot of socioeconomic inheritance.