Illustration for article titled How Your Parents Career Choices Affect Your Own, Visualized

Ever wondered if your choice of job was influenced by what your parents did for a living? Well, researchers at Facebook have taken a look at parent-child profession choices to find out.


In a blog post, Facebook research staff Ismail Onur Filiz and Lada Adamic explain how they’ve sifted through 5.6 million parent-child pairs in the English-speaking Facebook world to identify some trends. By examining listed occupations, the pair were able to calculate the probability of a child having an occupation given their parent’s occupation. The image above shows how a son’s employment relates to that of their father, but you can explore way more in a series of interactive visualizations over on the Facebook blog.

As an example, the son of a father who works in the legal profession is 4.6 times as likely to practice medicine than the average. Meanwhile, daughters whose mothers are nurses are 3.75 times more likely to enter nursing than the average. But it’s worth bearing in mind that some of these statistical quirks may not mean much in the grander scheme of things, as the pair explains:

Even though relatively speaking, a child may be much more likely to follow in his or her parents’ footsteps, the absolute percentage may still be quite low. A son who has a father in the military is 5 times more likely to enter the military, but just 1 in 4 sons of a military professional does so. For fathers in the dataset who work in farming, fishing and forestry, only 3% of their sons stay in the profession, but this probability is 7.6 times the overall rate. 20% of daughters of mothers who work in office and administrative support choose the same career, but this is only 2x the usual rate.


There’s clearly way to much data here to describe it all, so it’s worth heading to the page to check out what you’re interested in looking at.


Contributing Editor at Gizmodo. An ex-engineer writing about science and technology.

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