Rich Kids 10 Times as Likely to Become Inventors, Creating ‘Lost Einsteins’December 17, 2017
Children born into the top one percent of households by income are ten times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families, according to the study.
A study new study from Stanford and Harvard finds that lack of exposure to innovative mentoring and internships is inhibiting innovation.
Exposure to inventors in youth increases the likelihood kids become inventors themselves.
"Hence, there are many 'lost Einsteins,'" wrote the team "— individuals who do not pursue a career in innovation even though they would have had highly impactful innovations."
Children born into the top 1 percent of households by income are 10 times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families, according to a new study.
Economists from Stanford, Harvard, MIT and the U.S. Treasury Department published their findings as part of a working paper with the National Bureau of Economic Research. The research team found that there is significant disparity across demographic groups in terms of numbers of inventors.
But they also found other disparities: White children are three times more likely to become inventors than black children, and only 18 percent of 40-year-old inventors are women. While that gender gap is closing, it will take another 118 years to reach gender parity at the current rate, according to the researchers.
If women, minorities, and children from low-income families were to invent at the same rate as white men from top-quintile families, the total number of inventors in the economy would quadruple, the study found.
Importantly, living in a neighborhood with a high concentration of inventors directly affects a child's likelihood of becoming an inventor later in life.
"Hence, there are many 'lost Einsteins,'" the economists wrote in their report, entitled: "Who Becomes an Inventor in America? The Importance of Exposure to Innovation."
Harvard's Alexander Bell told CNBC: "It seems like that family background and the environment seem to matter a lot in terms of these disparities."
He added: "There are kids out there who have the skills to become inventors, but aren't due to their family's background. And that's concerning."