Nepotism in Italian Academe

August 5, 2011

Unusually high numbers of Italian academics share the same last names, suggesting nepotism is widespread, according to a new study by Stefano Allesina, an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. Allesina's work was prompted by Italian journalists' reports on apparent nepotism in academe, such as one university where nine relatives from three generations of a single family are in the economics department. Allesina examined a database with the names of 61,000 Italian academics, and found clusters of names in single departments most prevalent in industrial engineering, law, medicine, geography and pedagogy. The analysis of names found that nepotism was the least likely (names were closest to random in various fields) in linguistics, demography and psychology.The research is being published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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