Facebook Uses Data to Determine How Your Parents' Career Affects Your Own

March 29, 2016 | Elizabeth Knowles

Do jobs run in families?
Photo credit: Ismail Onur Filiz, Lada Adamic, Facebook

See how you measure up using an interactive graph.

You probably just think of Facebook as a social media platform where you can interact with friends and post pictures of your Easter dinner, but the company also has a research side to it. All that information about you that Facebook stores can also be used to learn about society.

Recently, they looked into family relationships and jobs — they wanted to investigate whether your parents’ and siblings’ career choices impacted your own. The research team used 2.37 million same-gender siblings, as well as parent-child sets from 5.6 million English-speaking users who specified their occupations.

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One of the interesting aspects of the interactive graphs is that by placing your mouse on a particular occupation, you can see the breakdown for child occupations by parental occupations and the breakdown for parental occupations by child occupations. This could answer questions such as whether a son whose father is a doctor is more likely to go into medicine or sales, for example. Facebook found that if you’re a man with a father in the military, you are five times more likely to join the armed forces than a typical son.

The graphs were divided into father-son and mother-daughter pairs, and showed that women who are daughters of nurses are 3.75 times more likely to go into nursing than the general population.

Do jobs run in families?
Ismail Onur Filiz, Lada Adamic, Facebook

Another type of interesting graph that came from the research showed proximity connections of different occupations — pairs that were more frequently located closer together on the graph. Sons whose fathers went into law were 4.6 times more likely to choose a medical profession than the average.

In terms of siblings, it’s not surprising that there were correlations between career choices — particularly when it comes to twins. ““Nearly 15 percent of siblings share an occupation, which is higher than the 8.6 percent rate for any two same-gender, same-age individuals in the population. Twins' tendency to choose the same occupation, at 24.7 percent, is even more striking,” the team said.

The graphs won’t recommend a career path and don’t take into account any of the other social factors that account for a person’s chosen field, but taking a look at how your situation measures up might give you some insight into why you do what you do — from both a nature and nurture perspective.

Do jobs run in families?
​Ismail Onur Filiz, Lada Adamic, Facebook

Check out the graphs here. How does your career path compare to Facebook's predictions?

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