Intra-generational social mobility and educational qualifications

Ian Plewis, Mel Bartley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The relation between intra-generational social class mobility of parents and their children's subsequent educational qualifications, and the implications of this relation for educational stratification, is explored by fitting statistical models to data from two UK longitudinal datasets: one based on the UK Census (ONS LS) and the 1970 birth cohort study (BCS70). Children whose parents are upwardly mobile gain higher educational qualifications than their peers in their class of origin, but obtain lower qualifications than their peers in their class of destination. The reverse pattern is observed for the downwardly mobile. These results mirror those obtained for the relation between adult intra-generational social mobility and a number of widely used measures of health. The implications of the findings for different explanations of the social class gradient in educational attainment are examined. The findings provide greater support for theoretical explanations of educational inequalities that are based on differences in economic circumstances between social classes than they do for explanations based on social class variations in the levels of cultural capital and aspirations. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that the overall pattern of results from these analyses is unchanged after statistically controlling for levels of parental education. The findings also have methodological implications for measuring the social class gradient in attainment and qualifications. © 2013 The Authors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages10
    JournalResearch in Social Stratification and Mobility
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Cultural capital
    • Educational qualifications
    • Intragenerational mobility
    • Longitudinal data
    • Rational action theory
    • Social class gradient


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