Gregory Clark: "The Big Sort: the Decline of Northern England, 1780–2018"
July 31, 2018, 09:48 AM
Print Friendly and PDF

As the home of the Industrial Revolution, in 1780, the north and midlands of England (Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, etc.) was the most economically dynamic area in the world and perhaps in world history up to that point.

Now, not so much. Gregory Clark has a new surname analysis paper suggesting this is because talented northerners tended to move to southern England:

The big sort: The decline of northern England, 1780–2018
Gregory Clark, Neil Cummins 30 July 2018

Northern England is now less educated and less productive than the south. This north-south divide is often characterised by policymakers as evidence of market failure. This column uses surname distributions to show that the northern decline can instead be explained by persistent outmigration of talent from the north. People of northern origin perform as well on average as those of southern origin. Talented northerners, however, are now mainly located in the south, where they are an economic elite.

For example, the Lunar Society of Birmingham met for dinner during full moons on and off from 1765 to 1813. Members included James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Samuel Galton, Jr., Joseph Priestley, and Josiah Wedgwood.

Many of their descendants, however, such as Charles Darwin and Francis Galton, tended to live closer to London, where the weather is nicer.

[Comment at]