Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Is social mobility an echo of educational mobility? Parents' educations and occupations and their children's occupational attainment

By Richard Lampard


Quantitative studies of occupational attainment and intergenerational social mobility have often devoted little attention to the roles of parental education and educational inheritance. Informed by the ideas of authors who see class reproduction as reflecting more than occupations and economic resources (including Devine, Savage and Crompton), this paper assesses the importance of parents' educations, and considers the relevance of education to class analysis and class reproduction processes.\ud \ud Logistic regressions using British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) data establish the relative importance of parents' educations and parents' occupational classes as determinants of children's attainment of service class occupations. These multivariate analyses reiterate the salience of mother's class, but also show that mother's education has an independent impact. However, this is more limited if both parents can be assigned to classes. The only difference between daughters and sons that is found in the impact of parental characteristics is a weaker impact of father's class on daughter's occupational attainment than on son's occupational attainment. For both daughters and sons, mother's education and mother's class have an impact.\ud \ud The relationship between parents' and children's educations accounts for relatively little of the relationship between parents' and children's occupational classes. Hence intergenerational class mobility patterns do not simply echo intergenerational educational mobility patterns. However, an examination of the direct and indirect effects of parents' educations and classes on children's occupational attainment shows parental education to play a substantial role in the intergenerational transmission of advantage, and indicates that part (but not all) of the relationship between class origin and occupational attainment can be explained in terms of the intergenerational transmission of cultural capital. In contrast, a substantial part of the indirect effect of parental class via children's qualifications does not reflect parental education. Hence the conversion of parental economic resources into children's educational credentials also appears important

Topics: HN
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2003). A Multi-Country Study of Inter-Generational Educational Mobility, UCD Centre for Economic Research Working Paper WP03/14.
  2. (1997). Against the Odds? Social Class and Social Justice in Industrial Societies. doi
  3. (1989). Analysis of binary data (2nd edition). doi
  4. (2007). By Slow Degrees: Two Centuries of Social Reproduction and Mobility in doi
  5. (2005). Capitals, assets, and resources: some critical issues’, doi
  6. (1996). Class Analysis and the Reorientation of Class Theory’,
  7. (2006). Class and family’, doi
  8. (1998). Class and Stratification. doi
  9. (1999). Class Attainment among British Men: A Multivariate Extension of the CASMIN doi
  10. (2004). Class Practices: How Parents Help Their Children Get Good Jobs. Cambridge: doi
  11. (2000). Conclusion: renewing class analysis’, doi
  12. (2001). Cultural capital and educational attainment’, doi
  13. (2003). Cultural capital in educational research: A critical assessment’, doi
  14. (1973). Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction’, doi
  15. (2003). Did Downward Mobility Decrease Because of Governmental Measures Enhancing Upward Mobility? Changes in the Netherlands during the 20th Century, Paper presented at a meeting of the ISA Research Committee on Social Stratification and Mobility (RC28),
  16. (1982). Dimensions of Educational and Occupational Attainment in Great Britain’, doi
  17. (1984). Distinction. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  18. (1987). Employment and Opportunity. doi
  19. (1990). Gender and Intergenerational Mobility’, doi
  20. (1986). Human capital and the rise and fall of families’, doi
  21. (2000). In search of the wage-labour/service contract: new evidence on the validity of the Goldthorpe class schema’, doi
  22. (2005). Inequality of Opportunity in Comparative Perspective: Recent Research on Educational Attainment and Social Mobility’, doi
  23. (1997). Intergenerational Mobility in Britain’, doi
  24. (2003). Intergenerational mobility in Europe: evidence from ECHP, Paper presented at the European Panel Users’ Network conference,
  25. (1989). Intergenerational Occupational Mobility within the Republic of Ireland: The Ignored Female Dimension’, doi
  26. (2000). Introduction: the state of class analysis’, doi
  27. (2000). Measuring inequality in a cross-tabulation with ordered categories: from the Gini coefficient to the Tog coefficient’, doi
  28. (2001). Missing Data, Sage University Papers
  29. (1983). Mothers and Daughters: Measuring Occupational Inheritance’,
  30. (1997). Occupational inheritance: The role of cultural capital and gender’, doi
  31. (2000). On Sociology: Numbers, Narratives, and the Integration of Research and Theory.
  32. (2000). Parental cultural capital and educational attainment in the Netherlands: A refinement of the cultural capital perspective’, doi
  33. (1995). Parents’ Occupations and Their Children’s Occupational Attainment: A Contribution to the Debate on the doi
  34. (1992). Property, Bureaucracy and Culture: Middle Class Formation in Contemporary Britain. doi
  35. (1999). Routes of success: influences on the occupational attainment of young British males’, doi
  36. (1975). Sex and the Process of Status Attainment: doi
  37. (1986). Sex-Differentiated Patterns of Intergenerational Occupational Mobility’, doi
  38. (1998). Social Origin as an Interest-bearing Asset: Family Background and Labour-market Rewards among Employees in Sweden’, doi
  39. (2000). Social position from narrative data’, doi
  40. (2001). Testing the modernization hypothesis and the socialist ideology hypothesis: a comparative sibling analysis of educational attainment and occupational status’, doi
  41. (1967). The American Occupational Structure. doi
  42. (1993). The Constant Flux: A Study of Class Mobility in Industrial Societies. doi
  43. (1997). The Forms of Capital’, doi
  44. (2000). The gendered restructuring of the middle classes: employment and caring’, doi
  45. (1976). The Occupational Status Attainment Processes of Males and Females’, doi
  46. (1993). The silenced voice: female social mobility patterns with particular reference to the British Isles’, doi
  47. (2003). The Total Impact of the Family on Educational Attainment: a Comparative Sibling Analysis’,
  48. (2005). Translating Bourdieu: cultural capital and the English middle class in historical perspective’, doi
  49. (2001). Trends in the intergenerational transmission of cultural and economic status’, doi
  50. (2000). Understanding Educational Inequality. The Swedish Experience’, L’Année sociologique,
  51. (1997). Unified BHPS work-life histories: combining multiple sources into a user-friendly format,
  52. (2003). Which factors matter more in intergenerational educational attainment: Social class, cultural capital or cognitive ability? A random effects approach, Centre for Applied Microeconometrics Working Paper 2003-05. Copenhagen:

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.