Longitudinal and Life Course Studies
An international journal

Social inequalities in educational attainment: The changing impact of parents’ social class, social status, education and family income, England 1986 and 2010

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Nicola PensieroUCL Institute of Education, UK

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Ingrid SchoonUCL Institute of Education, UK

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There is controversy regarding trends over time in the association between social origins and educational outcomes in the UK. An explanation may lie in different methods of analysis. This article provides new evidence about trends in inequality between the 1980s and 2010s and informs the debate about the conceptualisation and operationalisation of social origins. It expands the multidimensional conceptualisation of social origins proposed by Bukodi and Goldthorpe (2013) by adding a separate indicator of family income to those of class, status and education of parents. Results from two UK age cohorts born in 1970 (BCS70) and 1989/90 (Next Steps) show that social class, social status, education and income all have independent effects on educational attainment and can show different patterns of stability or variability over time. Moreover, the study highlights the importance of transitions to upper secondary education for a more comprehensive understanding of inequalities in educational progression and attainment.

Nicola PensieroUCL Institute of Education, UK

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Ingrid SchoonUCL Institute of Education, UK

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