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A new study says you're more likely to get a good job with rich parents over intelligence

By Axios

It traced students from kindergarten to adulthoodRead full story

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  • Sadly, the challenges of enabling inter-generational social mobility are long-standing. Some researchers analyzed the surnames of the top earning families in Florence since the 1400s(!), and found a lot of the same names over time:

    https://voxeu.org/article/what-s-your-surname-intergenerational-mobility-over-six-centuries

    Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying though!

  • The fact that wealth is usually inherited is the biggest thorn in the side of the classic American dream. Not only can people with wealth break the “rules of the game” with practical impunity, but they even tend to be the ones making the rules in the first place.

    To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with passing your wealth to your children. But any conversation about equality of opportunity should keep this in mind. An equal playing field needs to be actively and intentionally cultivated

    The fact that wealth is usually inherited is the biggest thorn in the side of the classic American dream. Not only can people with wealth break the “rules of the game” with practical impunity, but they even tend to be the ones making the rules in the first place.

    To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with passing your wealth to your children. But any conversation about equality of opportunity should keep this in mind. An equal playing field needs to be actively and intentionally cultivated for the American Dream to work. If anything, this should be the socioeconomic role of government.

  • Gene Daily
    Gene DailyAuthor

    I don't think this has changed much since the time of the founding fathers. Beginning your life in a position of great wealth and being introduced to those of great influence has always proven beneficial.

    The opportunity to change your circumstances through hard work and a certain amount of luck is simply more available in our capitalist system

  • John Gray
    John GrayFormer Banker Risk Management

    Are we finally admitting that nepotism and economic advantage has a larger role in the supposed meritocracy ?

  • Stephane Kasriel
    Stephane KasrielproCEO at Upwork

    Surprise, surprise... The American dream is pretty broken.

  • Weiyee IN
    Weiyee INChief Strategy Officer

    The American dream is not broken. There are few places in the world today where children of immigrants who started with very little money can succeed in life. Started life with 6 people in a 6th floor walk up of 500sqft, worked 2 jobs through an ivy league education, made Dean's list 3 of 4 years, paid off student loans working 2 jobs after college, went on to work on Wall Street and still have no debt! As did all other kids in my family.

  • Jessica  Davidoff
    Jessica Davidoffpro3-time founder. CEO at STATE Bags.

    Couldn’t agree with this more. It’s so sad but unfortunately true.

  • “It’s not what you know but who you know.” There’s a reason that’s a cliche.

  • This may have more to do with willingness and ability to take risk than money itself. In my experience, knowing you have a safety net makes it much easier to invest in your education, wait to take a job until you find the right one, or try something out of the ordinary. Without that backstop, any intelligent person will take the safer option, which is often much less likely to pay off in the long run.

  • Mark Harcourt
    Mark HarcourtOwner at South Slope Stylos

    The entire premise belies a bias inherent in the system. To even suggest that intellect is in any way related to economic success, is absurd. Would I give up one iota of intelligence for better pay? That is a question worth consideration as it implies the value of comprehension vs material success.

    We have allowed the measure of culture to coarsen when we celebrate material success over wisdom and our society suffers.

    Capitalism itself is an attempt to create a system of shared benefit for all mankind

    The entire premise belies a bias inherent in the system. To even suggest that intellect is in any way related to economic success, is absurd. Would I give up one iota of intelligence for better pay? That is a question worth consideration as it implies the value of comprehension vs material success.

    We have allowed the measure of culture to coarsen when we celebrate material success over wisdom and our society suffers.

    Capitalism itself is an attempt to create a system of shared benefit for all mankind, but it requires constant tending to ensure it's benefits are not captured for the exclusive few.

  • Jari Martikainen
    Jari Martikainen

    Being born with parents who care to teach the child how the world works is priceless.

  • If you come from a disadvantaged background and are successful you are really winning against the odds, this study said. My mom used to say to me — remember you have to be ten times smarter and work ten times harder to make it in life. Turns out she was right.

  • There’s an assumption that intelligence should be a good predictor of success and it isn’t. The most intelligent are rarely the most competent. Success comes from what we do. It’s based in action. Success requires a degree of intelligence. For most people in the job/employment world excess intelligence over what’s required produces no additional results.

    Average intelligence and above average drive and passion will always outperform the brilliant one on the sidelines thinking about it.

    It’s always

    There’s an assumption that intelligence should be a good predictor of success and it isn’t. The most intelligent are rarely the most competent. Success comes from what we do. It’s based in action. Success requires a degree of intelligence. For most people in the job/employment world excess intelligence over what’s required produces no additional results.

    Average intelligence and above average drive and passion will always outperform the brilliant one on the sidelines thinking about it.

    It’s always the “other guy” who has the unfair advantage. Doesn’t matter what your background is you can find a way to be the victim. Right now it is very unpopular to have come from wealth. (Full disclosure: I came from poverty so should be biased against wealth.)

    So, that being what it is, who is pushing the anti-wealthy narrative and what’s the intent of their crusade? Why, when the 1% has always been held up as inspiration, are they suddenly the root of all that’s bad and evil?

    My life might have been easier if I had come from affluence. But don’t mistake that for meaning it would have been better. Don’t mistake easy income for success.

    Those spoiled little rich kids are driving up the addiction and suicide numbers. Perhaps we’re not that all good at assigning stereotypes and blaming others no matter how much personal satisfaction it provides.

  • Have you met many c- level folks and had the pleasure to work with them?

    Or Do you listen the political families? How about expert pundits?

    There is a high level of stupid in high places, at all levels, and they keep their own in those places.

  • Betty  Kesate-Birhan
    Betty Kesate-Birhan Social Media Manager at Nikon

    Hmmm, this is indeed true but define 'good' job? The way I see it, having no 'job' at all is the preferred outcome in the future. Times are changing and what is a 'good job' in terms of a high paying 9-to-5 will become less and less relevant/desirable in the more shared, peer-to-peer economy that's on the rise, thanks to enabling technology :)

  • This is sadly the reality of economic inequalities. They tend to perpetuate from generation to generation. Society must provide much better opportunities for all. And what does that take? Good education and access to some start up funding in life. Come on people - we can do this!

  • Eric Artisan
    Eric ArtisanManaging Director at Artisan Venture

    “Honor’s in the dollar kid.” Nothing new here. It’s all about who you know and how you can influence others. Intelligence- sadly- comes second to money. The latter “buys” you access while the former (very often) gets you in trouble. Ignorance is bliss. So is money.

  • Tatsuya Oiwa
    Tatsuya OiwaSoftware Engineer at Quartz

    You can't get higher education just by being smart at kindergarten, but you need someone paying for it.

  • Callie Morris
    Callie Morris

    If the rich are both wealthy and intelligent, reason would say... let the less affluent, yet intelligent hang out in your circles to get greater exposure and opportunity. So, perhaps it's more about acceptance and recognizing the worth and value in all people. BTW, my father was a genius.. the son of a coal miner.. he never got the piece of paper. But was a genius nonetheless.

  • James Norton
    James Norton

    This truth manifests in many aspects of society, particularly political. If an individual has more $$ than another then most assume the richer one is among the smartest in the room. We know and see daily that most status quo, socially acceptable assumptions like this one are often dead wrong.

  • Paul O'Brien
    Paul O'BrienCEO at MediaTech Ventures

    Beyond experience, you get a *good* job through networking and referrals. I'm not sure where intelligence had much to do with it unless you're going into academia or a profession (doctor, architect, etc.).

    Thus we probably shouldn't be too surprised but inferring wealth is the cause is unfair. Wealthy parents may have more influential networks to influence those jobs but *any* parent can make connections and help their children thrive.

  • Brian  Nisbet
    Brian Nisbet Retired Lens Grinder

    Quartz should become a specialized University of some kind , the comments again are brilliant as are the people commenting here,I hope Quartz is compiling some sort of value to what comes from these people expressing great thought there is such experiential wealth here, something should be done to use it. Quartz did you know your a “ think tank “ ?

  • Skeptical to comment deeply without reviewing the methodology. It looks like a meta-study and unless controlled for many variables it's very easy to draw flawed conclusions.

    While it stands to reason that having a network of relationships and influence are gateways to better jobs, this needs to account for sampling biases, which is hard without looking at the underlying methodology...

  • Maggie Chan Jones
    Maggie Chan JonesproFounder & CEO at Tenshey, Inc.

    We know that being born “affluent” does not only give you wealth but access to more opportunities. We need to do more to level the playing field for those who have the intelligence and the drive but not the means to reach their potential thru public and private sectors.

  • Naoaki Oishi
    Naoaki OishiCyberagent, Inc

    There’s no surprise to me. That must have happened since a long time ago.

  • Not surprised by the data. But disappointed nonetheless.

  • Jeff Chau
    Jeff ChauFounder/CEO at gamegether, inc

    "Your network is your net worth."

    And

    "Talent is universal but opportunity is not."

    Are both so true.

  • The starting point is different for everyone. This does not mean that all of the beginners have the capability to benefit from their privileges.

  • This has always been abundantly clear. Studies such as this have been repeated over the decades, yet we’ve not seen any movement to ameliorate the situation. The illusion of meritocracy is being illuminated. However, The American Dream remains a dream, not reality for most as it is supposed to be.

  • James Horn
    James HornFinancial Advisor

    I don't know who said this first, but "Capitalism is the worst economic system available... Except for all the others"

  • Edoardo Pasero
    Edoardo PaseroPhotographer and Filmmaker

    Naaaaaaaaaaaaaathin new

  • Colin Muchirahondo
    Colin MuchirahondoBusiness Development Manager

    I believe this is true wherever you go in the world.

  • Roger Chua
    Roger Chua

    Probably. The child will get a good JOB with rich parents, highly likely due to the affluent network. On the flip side, such “sheltered environment” will probably render a “reliant” and “risk-adverse” mentality on the children, diminishing the entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of hunger to create new innovation to make the world better. It will be interesting if there’s a chart to show the number of Fortune 100 billionaires who are self-made vis-a-vis inherited fortune.

  • This is a cruel reality.

  • Lindsey Norden
    Lindsey Norden

    Not sure how this is new. I’m pretty sure that’s always been the case.

  • Faisal Abbas
    Faisal AbbasEducator, Software Developer

    The wealthy could be influencers only in a wealth seeking society. The buyer can only buy what the seller sells.

  • Cyn Shepherd
    Cyn Shepherd

    This is hardly news.

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