Surnames and Social Status in Spain Articles uri icon

publication date

  • September 2008

start page

  • 259

end page

  • 287

issue

  • 3

volume

  • 32

international standard serial number (ISSN)

  • 0210-1521

electronic international standard serial number (EISSN)

  • 1575-4367

abstract

  • We study the information contained in surnames on the socioeconomic status of people in Spain. We find that people bearing uncommon surnames tend to enjoy a higher socioeconomic status than people bearing more common surnames. This bias is statistically very significant and robust to different measures of socioeconomic status, and it holds at the national aggregate level as well as at the regional level. The paper offers an explanation of a significant part of such bias as being generated by a signaling behavior by successful dynasties and a low degree of social mobility.