Curious cases of Socio-Economic Heritability and Equity

Last week an Indian newspaper published a brief report investigating the people who topped the central board exams between the years 1996 and 2005 and what they are doing in life now. The journalist Ritika Chopra commented on the stats that there lies a connection between academic achievement and privilege as none of the 86 past toppers in the list were from so-called lower castes (Caste or Jati is an ancient social category in the peninsula) and the Adivasis (tribal communities).

Does the privilege exist? Yes. But then two diverse theories come to play. Blank slatists opine this is due to direct transmission of education or wealth and social networks where hereditarians say genetics acts an important factor in social prosperity and wealth of the individual. The former theory is very convincing. Yet hereditarians have pieces of evidence supporting their claim too.

·• The first curious case is Mao’s China. During Mao’s radical communist era, rich peasants lose their property and position whenever the State found a hoard of wealth, therefore descendants couldn’t inherit wealth from their ancestors. For decades Maoism did violent prosecution. During the Cultural revolution, descendants of elites were barred from university in the view to homogenize the entire population by cutting off the intergenerational transmission of prosperity. Yet it was found that the individuals whose ancestors were elite before the revolution earn 16% more than descendants of others.

The communist regime categorized households into four hereditary classes: Revolutionary Class, Proletarian Class, Middle Class and Bad Class. Revolutionary Class consisted of the CCP Elites who were mostly white-collar elites and were awarded the most preferential treatment while the bad class constituted the families who were rich earlier. During the year 1950-1979, the bad class was penalized, properties were taken under control, they were barred from State employed occupations and were send down to the countryside. After a half-century penalities formally ended. Thereafter individuals belonging to Bad Class seized whatever opportunities come in their way and emerged as the high-income category in the post-communist era.

·• Another popular incident is from Soviet camps. People who were forcibly resettled as camp prisoners in Gulags were the educated elites. After torture regime descendants of Gulags are found more likely to be highly educated than their educated grandsires and enhanced their local economies.

·• Then come Irish Catholic elites. Exile of Wild Geese where Irish aristocrats migrated to Europe as they were evicted off their property by Anglo-Dutch Protestant Whiggism. It’s was found that their social status was persistent across the generations. Irish descendants like de Gaulle and MacMohan had served as presidents in the French Republic. Other Wild Geese families like the Irish of Nantes (mostly aristocrats and Jacobite loyals in the House of Stuart) fleed from the country as refugees, yet their descendants indulged in the transatlantic slave trade pretty soon and emerged as elites.

·• After the US Civil war in the 1960s, Southern American elites who used to have more slave assets lost more wealth and status than that of similarly wealthy households possessing other occupations. Their productivity decline persisted till the next two generations. However, the 2nd generation bounced back as elites with regained wealth and social status. Their economic status was disturbed due to reconstruction policies after slavery abolition in 1965, hence they invested in social networking greatly that aided in rebounding to the previous position quickly.

Another evidence from US South is the land lottery in Georgia. A weird land allocation method where most of the land was put for lottery. Since more wealth offers the opportunity to access better investment possibilities for offsprings, it was most preferably assumed that the winners who won land must have been better than that of the non-winners. But the analysis found adult outcomes like income, literacy and wealth accumulated by the men of family lines of winners as well as non-winners were similar in course of a few decades.

Screen Shot 2021-01-02 at 5.00.33 PM
From 2011 national census in India

Similar is the case with the Indian state. According to the contemporary national census, so-called forward castes dominates the prosperity distribution respectively. Kayasthas top the list in terms of prosperity for they were a community or jati who used to work as an accountant or as a scribe in the King’s court in pre-colonized India. In Medieval India, Kayasthas were recruited as bureaucrats in Mughal courts as well as in British Raj and were also granted land for zamindari, hence due to intergenerational transmission of wealth and social contact, their family lines of men uphold the most prosperous positions in society today. The next position in the stat belongs to Brahmins whose specific varieties used for a different set of occupations such as advisors to the ruler, researchers on various aspects of life and society, some with priestly positions, learners, commutators and acharyas with knowledge being their primary domain. British Raj recruited Brahmins extensively in the high administration. Banias and OBCs etc had tremendous industrial knowledge, skills and are actually prosperous in post-colonized India. They went into decline when colonizers stole and impoverished the most prosperous community of the most prosperous nation. Scheduled castes and tribes were the conveyors of myriad skills through generations, later the industrial revolution and extinction of many professions ruined their traditional livelihood to a greater extent.

Modern industrialized society has destroyed the traditional occupation of most of the communities, the skills that were impossible to attain for other communities. With the rush for automated technology, each stratum of the labor force, even the top-most white-collar jobs are facing the heat and shrinking progressively. Under such circumstances, the former learner caste or the former bureaucratic caste doesn’t not have an advantage over other farmers to shift to farm tenancy or to craftsmanship. The new labor system required new skills, hence men from the bureaucratic caste make the best out of the hereditary skills and win the race. On other hand, the decline of craftsmanship and its respectability can be discerned through a study done on taxpayers in Florence over the six centuries. In the 1400s, most members of key guilds were the high taxpayers whereas by 2011 they were fell down to the bottom of the taxpayer surname list.

To be clear I’m considering average differences among people, not about individuals and all skills are equally important. Does genetic privilege exist? Genes make a substantial difference in general cognitive ability, reflect one’s performance in various life skills. Researches conducted on twin subjects suggests the theory that both heritable factors by genetics and cultural factors (with which one is brought up) contribute to the person’s success. The genetic dependence of the big five personality dimensions, i.e; Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness were estimated to be 41%, 53%, 61%, 41%, and 44% respectively. Social networks develop from these genetic variables and makes you more prosperous in respective fields.

In the utopian fantasy of a university going young blood or of a social scientist, inequity seems very cruel till it comes to all the genetic, directly transferred privileges or social networks created by his ancestors he enjoys. Radical equitist with reluctance to accept “inequity is a fact” and believes “humanity must be homogenous in terms of every traits” is much actively committed to the doctrine that those who benefit from unequal distributions must be forcedly obliged to pay or be punished while his own individual effort focusing on fairness in treatment to the selves is next to nil. Interestingly enough, there is a study to investigate whether children have more affinity to fairness or equity and as a result elder lot of children were found to be happy to create inequality and preserve fairness where younger age children adopted partiality to achieve the taught idea of equality. Hence, as a child grows up, he aims towards procedural justice than in terms of equality. The same is what adults largely agree and aspire for despite all race/class rift social scientists wants force over society.

Michael Norton aptly says,
“People exhibit a desire for inequality – not too equal, but not too unequal.”



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Interesting post! Very thought-provoking. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  2. leo f. brady says:

    yes very interesting

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Binisonu says:

    Very informative post

    Liked by 1 person

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