Learning about an occupation from Mom or Dad has a long tradition — and has led to scientific and economic advances. Irene Curie joined her mother Marie in becoming a pioneer of nuclear medicine — and Nobel Prize winner. Sons have become U.S. president after their fathers. The notion of carrying the family career torch is even the stuff of Hollywood heroics, as “Star Wars” fans will recall Luke Skywalker proclaiming: “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”
Can this concentration of expertise within families have any unintended consequences?
Increasingly, a concern is arising that high barriers to entry into the most lucrative occupations, combined with transmission of knowledge within families, may perpetuate socioeconomic inequalities by creating occupational dynasties.
In a new study published Dec. 16 in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal, Stanford assistant professors Petra Persson and SHP's Maria Polyakova examine heritability of the medical profession, which is among the highest-paying jobs in many countries.