How Your Parents' Career Choices Affect Your Own (According to Facebook)

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We inherit a lot from our parents—our appearances, personalities, and many of our likes and dislikes, to name a few things. Are we also more likely to choose their career paths?

Facebook researchers Ismail Onur Filiz and Lada Adamic examined the occupations of 5.6 million English-speaking parent-child pairs listed on Facebook. Their aim was to see how frequently a child followed in their mother or father’s vocational footsteps. Filiz and Adamic mapped out their findings in a series of interactive visualizations, which you can view over at Facebook’s blog.

The takeaways were manifold. For instance, Facebook found that the son of someone in the legal field is 4.6 times as likely to practice medicine as sons in general. (This phenomenon could be explained by the fact that the two professions have a similar socioeconomic status, New York magazine points out.) Meanwhile, daughters whose moms are nurses are 3.75 times more likely to enter nursing than the average woman.

One caveat? Since this study only looked at individuals who specified their occupations on Facebook, these findings “may not be representative of the population overall,” Filiz and Adamic write. For example, “the military occupation category is over-represented because it is mapped based on both employer and stated occupation and past military service, whereas other job categories were mapped based on stated occupation only.”

After seeing how parent-child career choices were related, Filiz and Adamic delved into sibling data. Since siblings share similar upbringings—and in the case of twins, similar genetics—it would theoretically make sense that they also landed in the same occupations. Filiz and Adamic examined 2.37 million same-gender siblings, and compared twins with siblings who were born two years or less apart. They found that 15 percent of same-gender siblings worked in the same field. Meanwhile, a whopping 24.7 percent of same-gender twins entered similar professions.

The overall takeaway? Family members are "proportionally more likely" to wind up working in the same field, particularly twins. However, at the end of the day, the "vast majority" of individuals forge their own paths. Curious to learn more? Check out the full results over at Facebook’s blog.  

[h/t Gizmodo]