Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Higher education, career opportunities, and intergenerational inequality

Crawford, Claire, Gregg, Paul, Macmillan, Lindsey, Vignoles, Anna and Wyness, Gill (2016) Higher education, career opportunities, and intergenerational inequality. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 32 (4). pp. 553-575. ISSN 0266-903X

PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (529kB) | Preview
Identification Number: 10.1093/oxrep/grw030


The UK government has expressed a desire to increase social mobility, with policies to help achieve this aim focused on reducing inequalities in educational attainment. This paper draws together established and new information about the contribution that higher education can make to social mobility using a life-course approach, considering differences by family background in terms of university attendance and achievement, as well as occupation and earnings following graduation. We find substantial socio-economic differences at each stage. Young people from poorer backgrounds are, on average, less likely to go to university than their richer peers. Even among the selected group who do go to university, they are less likely to attend the highest status institutions, less likely to graduate, and less likely to achieve the highest degree classes. These differences in degree outcomes contribute to the lower average earnings of graduates from poorer families, but earnings differentials go well beyond those driven purely by degree attainment or institution attended. The evidence strongly suggests that, even after taking these factors into account, graduates from affluent families are more likely to obtain a professional job and to see higher earnings growth in the labour market. We discuss the implications of these findings for the prospects of higher education as a route to greater social mobility

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Authors
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I2 - Education > I23 - Higher Education Research Institutions
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2016 14:45
Last Modified: 22 May 2024 04:27
Projects: ES/K005804/1, ES/L000105/1
Funders: ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton, ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, University of Southampton

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics