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Family income and educational attainment : a review of approaches and evidence for Britain

Blanden, Jo and Gregg, Paul (2004) Family income and educational attainment : a review of approaches and evidence for Britain. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 20 (2). pp. 245-263. ISSN 1460-2121

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Identification Number: 10.1093/oxrep/grh014


It is widely recognised that, on average, children from poorer backgrounds have worse educational outcomes than their better off peers. There is less evidence on how this relationship has changed over time and, indeed, what exactly leads to these inequalities. In this paper we demonstrate that the correlation between family background (as measured by family income) and educational attainment has been rising between children born in the late 1950s and those born two decades later. The remainder of the paper is spent considering the extent to which these associations are due to the causal effects of income rather than the result of other dimensions of family background. We review the approaches taken to answering this question, drawing mainly in the US literature, and then present our own evidence from the UK, discussing the plausible range for the true impact of income on education. Our results indicate that income has a causal relationship with educational attainment.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: Deposited 12/07/2005. This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version [Oxf Rev Econ Policy 2004 20: 245-263] is available online at: LSE has developed LSE Research Online so that users may access research output of the School. Copyright © and Moral Rights for the papers on this site are retained by the individual authors and/or other copyright owners. Users may download and/or print one copy of any article(s) in LSE Research Online to facilitate their private study or for non-commercial research. You may not engage in further distribution of the material or use it for any profit-making activities or any commercial gain. You may freely distribute the URL ( of the LSE Research Online website.
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
L Education > L Education (General)
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 00:16

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