3 years ago

Last name analysis of mobility, gender imbalance, and nepotism across academic systems [Statistics]

Last name analysis of mobility, gender imbalance, and nepotism across academic systems [Statistics]
Jacopo Grilli, Stefano Allesina

In biology, last names have been used as proxy for genetic relatedness in pioneering studies of neutral theory and human migrations. More recently, analyzing the last name distribution of Italian academics has raised the suspicion of nepotism, with faculty hiring their relatives for academic posts. Here, we analyze three large datasets containing the last names of all academics in Italy, researchers from France, and those working at top public institutions in the United States. Through simple randomizations, we show that the US academic system is geographically well-mixed, whereas Italian academics tend to work in their native region. By contrasting maiden and married names, we can detect academic couples in France. Finally, we detect the signature of nepotism in the Italian system, with a declining trend. The claim that our tests detect nepotism as opposed to other effects is supported by the fact that we obtain different results for the researchers hired after 2010, when an antinepotism law was in effect.

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