Monday, January 30, 2012


Measuring success

This is just a placeholder for some ideas to consider on socio-economic statistics.

  1. measuring mobility: the usual measure, I believe, is son's income versus father's income. That seems really hard to get right. Between changes of socio-economic context, inflation and purchase-price-parity over time, return on investments as well as salary income, and other factors, how does one arrive at comparable measures of economic (much less socio-economic) success of two people born a generation (literally) apart?
  2. An alternative is 'educational attainment', but is that an end in itself?
  3. A 'return on investment' could be a good measure, although it might be hard to decently quantify the early years, the value of the household community and public schools. The idea would be to measure what each individual earned compared to what was given them. Estate at death versus inheritance and parental investment would be simple, but parental investment, as noted above, would be the difficult measure to get correct.
  4. Achievement, socio-economic performance may not evolve monotonically, but 'recessively' skipping generations. Shouldn't socio-economic attainment be compared to the better of one's parents and one's grandparents?
  5. What of, and how to adjust and adapt to changing socio-economic contexts, the son-father measure, leaving women out of consideration?
  6. Does anyone study socio-economic downward mobility? "On average..." fine, but how many trust fund kiddies (for instance) end up on the skids (to caricature)?

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