Intergenerational Mobility in the Very Long Run: Florence 1427-2011

42 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2016

See all articles by Guglielmo Barone

Guglielmo Barone

University of Bologna - Department of Economics

Sauro Mocetti

Bank of Italy

Date Written: April 28, 2016


We examine intergenerational mobility in the very long run, across generations that are six centuries apart. We exploit a unique dataset containing detailed information at the individual level for all people living in the Italian city of Florence in 1427. These individuals have been associated, using their surnames, with their pseudo-descendants living in Florence in 2011. We find that earnings elasticity is about 0.04, much higher than predicted by traditional models of intergenerational mobility. We also find an even stronger role for real wealth inheritance and evidence of persistence in belonging to certain elite professions. Our results are confirmed when we account for the quality of the pseudo-links and when we address the potential selectivity bias due to the differential survival rates across surnames. We argue that the quasi-immobility of pre-industrial society and the positional advantages in the access to certain professions might explain (in part) the long-lasting effects of ancestors’ socioeconomic status.

Keywords: intergenerational mobility, earnings, wealth, professions, informational content of surnames, Florence

JEL Classification: J62, N33, D31

Suggested Citation

Barone, Guglielmo and Mocetti, Sauro, Intergenerational Mobility in the Very Long Run: Florence 1427-2011 (April 28, 2016). Bank of Italy Temi di Discussione (Working Paper) No. 1060, Available at SSRN: or

Guglielmo Barone (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Department of Economics ( email )


Sauro Mocetti

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184

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