UCL Department of Economics


CReAM Seminar - Carlo Schwarz (Bocconi)

18 March 2024, 4:00 pm–5:15 pm

Drayton House

Carlo Schwarz (Bocconi) will present at this seminar.

Event Information

Open to



Hyejin Ku

Title: Climbing the Ivory Tower: How Socio-Economic Background Shapes Academia

Abstract: This paper explores the impact of socioeconomic background on academic careers in the United States. We construct a novel dataset that links the near-universe of US academics to full-count censuses, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between parental occupation, socioeconomic status, and academic outcomes. The findings indicate that US academics are heavily selected based on socioeconomic background, with having a father who was a professor serving as the strongest predictor of becoming a professor oneself. We also document significant variations in socioeconomic selectivity by academic discipline and university. Conditional on making it to academia, there are no differences in careers and scientific productivity, indicating that the initial selection process may play a crucial role in determining one's academic success. Additionally, we show that socioeconomic background influences a scientist's choice of subfield and thereby the direction of research.

Location: Physics Building A1/3