Study Shows Same Wealthy Families Have Been Ruling for 800 Years

Wealth and power in England has been in the hands of the same families for 28 generations or 800 years, according to a study by two economists using the educational status and surnames in England dating back to 1170. The results of the study show how incredibly entrenched wealth and power can be in a society. The study details a society where social mobility has been nearly nonexistent at the highest levels for nearly a thousand years.

Multigenerational plutocracies have become entrenched, findings from studies of surnames and their status in society show, stretching back almost to the invention of surnames. The same families have passed down power and control over society. Surnames were first used by the upper classes in England in 1066, descendants carrying the same surnames have persisted at the very top of society since.

Families who attended Oxford and Cambridge have an even more significant correlation, showing that “social status was more strongly inherited than height.” “This correlation is unchanged over centuries. Social mobility in England in 2012 was little greater than in preindustrial times.”

All the social, political and economic reforms have made no difference in changing who the wealth holding elite in England are. ”Even more remarkable is the lack of a sign of any decline in status persistence across major institutional changes, such as the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century, the spread of universal schooling in the late nineteenth century, or the rise of the social democratic state in the twentieth century,” researchers said.

This study is not the first of its kind to show how entrenched wealth and power are in the world, this just focused on England.



“Queen’s home” by John Fielding is licensed under CC BY 2.0


  1. Does seem a bit of a generalisation. While England still has the “Norman Yoke” as someone once called it, there are other families such as the Bentincks or even the likes of Alan Sugar who don’t come from that background.

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