• PNAS Subscriptions
  • Sign-up for PNAS eTOC Alerts

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

  1. Stefano Allesinaa,b,c,1,2
  1. aDepartment of Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637;
  2. bComputation Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637;
  3. cNorthwestern Institute on Complex Systems, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208
  1. Edited by Kenneth W. Wachter, University of California, Berkeley, CA, and approved June 1, 2017 (received for review March 1, 2017)


In the age of Big Data and high-throughput sequencing, a list of names might seem like a meager source of data. However, here we show that, by analyzing last name distributions, one can highlight distinctive patterns in academic systems around the world. By collecting data on academics in Italy, France, and the United States, we show that, in the Italian system, professors tend to work in their native region, whereas the US system is geographically well-mixed. We can detect the effect of field-specific immigration in the United States and highlight patterns of gender imbalance in the sciences. Finally, we show that, in Italy, the plague of nepotism—professors hiring their relatives—is slowly declining.


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.


  • ?1J.G. and S.A. contributed equally to this work.

  • ?2To who correspondence should be addressed. Email: sallesina{at}uchicago.edu.

Online Impact

    <var id="UPyyYwe"><strike id="UPyyYwe"></strike></var>
    <ins id="UPyyYwe"></ins>
    <ins id="UPyyYwe"></ins>
    <cite id="UPyyYwe"><video id="UPyyYwe"></video></cite>
    <ins id="UPyyYwe"></ins><ins id="UPyyYwe"><span id="UPyyYwe"><cite id="UPyyYwe"></cite></span></ins>
    <var id="UPyyYwe"><span id="UPyyYwe"></span></var>
    <cite id="UPyyYwe"><video id="UPyyYwe"><var id="UPyyYwe"></var></video></cite>
    <cite id="UPyyYwe"></cite>
    <var id="UPyyYwe"></var>
    <cite id="UPyyYwe"></cite>
    <ins id="UPyyYwe"></ins>
    <cite id="UPyyYwe"><span id="UPyyYwe"></span></cite><cite id="UPyyYwe"></cite>
    <var id="UPyyYwe"><video id="UPyyYwe"><menuitem id="UPyyYwe"></menuitem></video></var>
    <var id="UPyyYwe"><span id="UPyyYwe"></span></var>
    <ins id="UPyyYwe"></ins>
    <ins id="UPyyYwe"></ins><var id="UPyyYwe"><span id="UPyyYwe"></span></var>
    <var id="UPyyYwe"><span id="UPyyYwe"></span></var>
    <cite id="UPyyYwe"></cite>
    <var id="UPyyYwe"><strike id="UPyyYwe"><menuitem id="UPyyYwe"></menuitem></strike></var>
    <ins id="UPyyYwe"></ins>
    <cite id="UPyyYwe"></cite><cite id="UPyyYwe"></cite>
  • 8686301327 2018-02-22
  • 1879481326 2018-02-22
  • 9332351325 2018-02-22
  • 7384141324 2018-02-22
  • 8918371323 2018-02-22
  • 7638311322 2018-02-22
  • 9654151321 2018-02-22
  • 1588961320 2018-02-22
  • 5712971319 2018-02-22
  • 5536211318 2018-02-22
  • 4417061317 2018-02-22
  • 3024201316 2018-02-21
  • 4658931315 2018-02-21
  • 3216561314 2018-02-21
  • 1965251313 2018-02-21
  • 970811312 2018-02-21
  • 609011311 2018-02-21
  • 3219131310 2018-02-21
  • 613261309 2018-02-21
  • 6972481308 2018-02-21