Is inequality inevitable?

A new study suggests it's impossible to eradicate — even over hundreds of years

Is Bernie Sanders' vision too unrealistic?
(Image credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

This might be the most depressing finding in social science. A new study tried to assess intergenerational mobility by looking at last names and found the highest earners in Florence in 2011 were the descendants of the highest earners in the year 1427, nearly 600 years earlier. Social mobility, or the lack thereof, persisted "despite the huge political, demographic, and economic upheavals that occurred between the two dates."

Lest you think this problem is quarantined to Italy, let me assure you: It is not. There have been similar findings across various countries that possess vastly different cultures, histories, and political and economic systems, including Sweden, England, the U.S., and even China, in spite of the Maoist revolution.

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