Tech UPTechnologyThe most successful people are born where there are...

The most successful people are born where there are the most immigrants

While determining when a person is famous or successful is difficult because there is a certain subjective component to the rating, a fairly objective way to determine it is to check if their name has a Wikipedia entry .

Under this premise, data from 150,000 Americans who had a Wikipedia entry (date and place of birth, occupation, sex) were taken and matched with birth records compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics .

In this way, the probability that a person had an entry in Wikipedia could be calculated according to the county in the United States where they were born. The correlations that were obtained could not be more surprising.

Geographic variation

In order for the sample of successful people to really be represented by commendable achievements and not negative events, for example, famous criminals or murderers were excluded from the count. On the other hand, celebrities were emphasized in the arts and entertainment industry (30%), in sports (29%), in politics (9%) and the humanities or sciences (3%). Only those born between 1949 and 1964 were also selected.

With this caveat made, and that calculating the degree of success through Wikipedia forces you to incur certain biases (the editors of this collaborative encyclopedia are usually young men familiar with the technology), the first thing that was statistically verified is that there was great geographic variation . In other words, the place of birth, the ecosystem, was a strong predictor of success.

Thus, for example, 1 in 748 people born in Suffolk Country, Massachusetts, had a Wikipedia entry. In other counties, the success rate was 20 times lower. In West Virginia, only 1 in 4,496 births had entered Wikipedia. In California, 1 in 1 209.

In general, the places with the most “Wikipedian celebrities” had two characteristics.

Universities and immigration

First, the counties with the highest number of successful people were home to a large college town . For example, in Washtenaw, Michigan, there was Ann Arbor. In New York, Ithaca.

On the one hand, this is quite intuitive: geographical proximity allows many more people to access higher university studies. There may also be other less obvious reasons, such as that a higher percentage of professors and graduate students reside here, who in turn will have children who will be inclined to follow in their footsteps or will live in contexts where culture abounds.

This factor is so important that it is even above ethnicity. For example, in Macon County, 15 of the 13,000 born here (that is, 1 in 852) entered Wikipedia, and all were African American . On the list we find judges, writers and scientists.

Along with a college town, the second factor in the counties that produced the most successful people was that there was a large city in that county . Thus, the majority of Wikipedia journalists come from New York City; from Boston, most scientists; from Los Angeles, mostly actors.

This factor, in turn, can be broken down into a much stranger one: counties with the most successful people are those with the highest percentage of immigrants . It is common for a large city to have more immigrants because there are also greater job opportunities. But what is truly striking is that, if two counties with similar urban and university populations are compared, the one in which the most immigrants reside will ultimately be the one in which the most Americans are born with Wikipedia entries.

It is not known what causal link produces this correlation, but it seems that there is a higher percentage of children of immigrants who decide to be artists, and in percentage terms many of them are successful.

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