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The American Dream of social mobility: what is the only sure way to success?

08 February2018
The American Dream of social mobility: what is the only sure way to success?

The third day of the 2018 Gaidar Forum, Russia and the World: Values and Virtues, featured a presentation of the Russian-language edition of The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility by Gregory Clark.

Dr. Clark is a professor of economics and philosophy at the University of California, an expert in long-term economic growth, and the economic history of England and India. The main topic of discussion during the presentation was how much our destinies depend on the social status of our parents – a very pressing issue in the modern world. The writer's take on it is quite bold.

People are used to thinking that human society has entered a new stage of development. The social structure is no longer limited to rigid class boundaries, and an individual’s position in it can be very mobile, providing opportunities to rile to the elite as well as to irrevocably lose their leading positions.

However, the paradox of reality is evident: people are still quite skeptical about whether children can rise to a higher socioeconomic status than their parents. Gregory Clark answers sharply and unequivocally – the only sure way to success is to be born in the right family. Our prosperity is directly determined by the background - the paradigm suggested by his study. 

Using the analysis of world history, applying his own methodology to the study of modern society, the writer concludes that state policies can do little to affect social mobility. “Only the fact that a person inherits or does not inherit certain abilities, regardless of kinship or their financial standing, can dilute the density of colors ,” the expert notes.

The organizers include the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), the Gaidar Institute for Economic Policy (Gaidar Institute) and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia (AIRR).

The program outline is available at the forum website.

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The general partners of the Gaidar Forum are Gazprom and Gazprombank; strategic partners include Novartis, Johnson&Johnson, RZD, MSD, AstraZeneca, the ACIG Group of Companies, Mastercard, Coca-Cola, Russian Agricultural Bank, Pharmstandard JSC, Microsoft; O1 Group, Unilever, EY, Russian Brewers’ Union, Russian Direct Investment Fund are partners and RVC.

The general information partners include the Rossiya 24 TV channel, RBC and TASS news agencies. The official information agency is Rossiya Segodnya. The general online media partner is Gazeta.RU. The general radio partner is Business FM. The strategic information partners are Kommersant Publishers, the RT TV channel and Interfax. The main information partners are Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Federalpress news agency. Other media partners include, PRIME news agency, EFE, Polit.ru, Expert RA, Radio Ekho Moskvy, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, BRICS, National Banking Journal, Banking Review, Financial One, Standards and Quality news agency, AK&M, Ekonomika i Zhizn weekly, Invest Foresight online magazine, Strategia magazine, Naans Media, the Public Administration scientific political journal, the PRO BUSINESS TV channel, the Indicator online science journal, the Bankovskoye Delo (Banking Business) magazine, RNS news agency, Business Excellence magazine, Cision, the Budget magazine, Information platform “Russian planet – Smart Russia”.

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