Dalton Conley

Professor Dalton Conley

Karen speaks with Professor Dalton Conley, the Henry Putnam University Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and affiliate of the Office of Population Research and the Center for Health and Wellbeing. Professor Conley talks with Karen about his bestselling book, The Pecking Order, Which Siblings Succeed and Why, which asserts that birth order does not determine success but instead, success is influenced by socioeconomic factors.

Dalton Conley is the Henry Putnam University Professor in Sociology and a faculty affiliate at the Office of Population Research and the Center for Health and Wellbeing.  He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and in a pro bono capacity he serves as Dean of Health Sciences for the University of the People, a tuition-free, accredited, online college committed to expanding access to higher education.  

Conley’s scholarship has primarily dealt with the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic and health status from parents to children.  This focus has led him to study (among other topics): the impact of parental wealth in explaining racial attainment gaps; the causal impact of birthweight (as a heuristic for the literal overlap of the generations) on later health and educational outcomes; sibling differences that appear to reflect the triumph of achievement over ascription (but which may, in fact, merely reflect within-family stratification processes); and, finally, genetics as a driver of both social mobility and reproduction.

He earned a M.P.A. in Public Policy (1992) and a Ph.D. in Sociology (1996) from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from NYU in 2014. His books include Being Black, Living in the Red; The Starting Gate; Honky; The Pecking Order; You May Ask Yourself; Elsewhere, USA;Parentology; and The Genome Factor. He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Russell Sage Foundation fellowships as well as a CAREER Award and the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.