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Political and Business Dynasties: a Social Gradient in Returns to Elite Education

Authors
  • Benveniste, Stéphane
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2024
Source
Archined
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Dynasties constitute a visible sign of intergenerational persistence and raise questions about the legitimacy of the ruling elite. This paper uses data on graduates of elite colleges to explore the influence of political and business dynasties in France. I link nominative data on 103,309 graduates of 12 French Grandes ´ Ecoles born between 1931 and 1975 to their professional careers as politicians with national-level mandates or as board members of French firms. Identifying lineage through surnames, I find that sons of political and business leaders were substantially more likely than their graduate peers to pursue elite careers themselves, revealing a social gradient in returns to elite education. Political dynasties were particularly sizeable, although progressively declining. These dynasties also affected the composition of the French elite: fewer dynastical board members were graduates of top colleges than their first-generation colleagues. Yet, they were propelled much younger into top business and political positions.

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