Originally published on Tue October 16, 2012 4:31 pm
Using data on surnames dating back almost 1,000 years, economic historian Gregory Clark says he's found evidence that families rise and fall across generations at a much slower rate than anyone previously thought. And he says that rate remains constant across national boundaries and time periods.
Clark is writing a book about his research, and he says he's still working out some of his conclusions, but here are six possible takeaways from what he's found so far:
New research suggests that success in life may be determined by ancestors from hundreds of years ago. The research finds that your chance of making it into the elite is the same in the United States as it is in South America, no matter when you were born.
Here is a question that social scientists have been pondering for years: How much of your success in life is tied to your parents, and how much do you control?
The academic term used for this is "social mobility." And a striking new finding from economic historian Gregory Clark of the University of California, Davis claims your success in life may actually be determined by ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago. That means improving opportunities across generations might be a lot harder than anyone imagined.
The emir of Kano state is the highest-ranking Muslim leader in northern Nigeria. Wada Mohamed Aliyu, seen here, is the emir's point man on polio. Local imams boycotted polio vaccination in 2003 and 2004, but now solidly support immunization.
The small farming village of Minjibir, in northern Nigeria, has seen six cases of polio this year. Polio was eliminated from the Western Hemisphere in the early 1990s. It was stamped out in Europe a few years later.
A polio immunization poster is taped on a walk-in refrigerator at a new cold storage facility at a hospital in Kano. The oral polio vaccine must be kept refrigerated; that's been a challenge in a place with only intermittent access to electricity.
A nurse at the health clinic in Minjibir prepares to distribute free bed nets to combat malaria. Campaigns like this one, which offers services for malaria, attract local residents to the clinic. While they're there, residents are encouraged to get their children vaccinated against polio.
A child is vaccinated against polio at the Minjibir health clinic. The procedure, in which two drops of vaccine are pinched into a child's mouth, only takes a few seconds. Children should get at least three doses of the vaccine, spread out over time.
Hawa Bello, a social mobilization consultant with UNICEF in Kano, meets with community volunteers. The volunteers are given a small stipend to guide polio immunization teams through their individual neighborhoods. It's the volunteer's job to make sure every child under 5 in a given neighborhood gets vaccinated.
Wada Mohamed Aliyu is the representative for the emir of Kano state, the highest-ranking Muslim leader in the area. Local imams boycotted polio vaccination in 2003 and 2004, but they now solidly support immunization.
A child is immunized against polio at the health clinic in a farming village in northern Nigeria. The procedure involves pinching two drops of the vaccine into the child's mouth. For full protection, the child needs three doses, spaced out over time.
As the presidential candidates make their cases to the nation, health care is taking up a lot of talking points. But one subject that's less likely to be debated forthrightly is end-of-life care.
A big driver of U.S. health care expenditure is what's spent in the last year of life. Those who argue in favor of rationing that care say the country cannot afford to provide unlimited health care — either the government or insurance companies have to ration end-of-life care as a policy response.
Female Marines unload their rifles after a patrol with Afghan soldiers in Helmand province in June. The Marine Corps leadership has started an experiment to determine whether female Marine lieutenants have what it takes to become infantry officers and lead on the battlefield.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, we've been talking a lot about the national debt this election year, but did you know that Americans, as a group, owe more than a trillion dollars in student loan debt? In a few minutes, we'll speak with a former college professor, who says faculty advisors need to be doing more to help students think that through. That's in just a few minutes.