Does Design Run In Your Family? This Graphic Charts Parent-Child Career Paths

Are you more likely to chose or reject an occupation because of what your parents do? Two Facebook researchers decided to find out.

Does Design Run In Your Family? This Graphic Charts Parent-Child Career Paths
Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Some people choose to follow their parents into a career–whether for comfort, ease, or a sense of familial expectation. Others may reject it outright for all those same reasons. “Parents pass on their genes, set an example, provide opportunities, and give advice to either aim for or steer clear of their own lines of work,” Facebook researchers Ismail Onur Filiz and Lada Adamic write in a company blog post on this topic.

In short, everyone chooses their profession for a set of differing, complex reasons. But what trends exist between parents and their children’s occupation? With a wealth of Facebook data at their fingertips, Filiz and Adamic set out to find out.

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To visualize the data, the researchers sifted through 5.6 million parent-child pairs and their occupations on Facebook. They mapped the occupations as they were listed on Facebook to the major occupation categories as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Then, they divided the data into father-son and mother-daughter occupation pairs, apparently for ease of organization. Scroll your mouse over a parent occupation and it shows the connections with kids, and vice versa. If your specific job isn’t listed outright, you can see the broader category definitions on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site. For example, both art and graphic design fall under entertainment, while architecture and engineering have their own dedicated category.

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Instead of highlighting overarching trends, the visualization shows how each occupation category is its own unique case. The chances of a father architect having a son who is also an architect, for example, are just as high as him having a son who works in restaurants. Meanwhile, a high percentage of both men and women architects had parents who worked in management. Women who work in entertainment–where design is grouped–have daughters that are most likely to end up doing office work or sales. A separate graphic examining the likelihood of siblings to share a similar occupation showed that both male and females working in the Art, Design, Sports and Media category were more likely to share their occupation with a sibling than those working in Architecture and Engineering.

The data only represents the people who list their occupation on Facebook, and the occupational categories are extremely generalized, so the dataset definitely has its shortcomings. But with that large of a sample size, it’s a fascinating study nonetheless–and one that’s well worth exploring to see how your own career path compares.

Click around the fully interactive graphic here. Find your job within the general categories here.

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.