History and Origins


A number of European countries have their own national socio-economic classifications which they use to illustrate the social patterns associated with a variety of life-chances such as health, education, deprivation, poverty and so on. However, there has not been an equivalent European classification which would allow researchers to compare the relationship between social organization and life chances cross-nationally.

In 1999, Eurostat, as part of its statistical harmonisation programme, established an expert group to advise on the possibility of creating a European SEC. ESeC is the culmination of this group’s work.


ESeC has been developed from a sociological classification that has been widely used in pure and applied research, known as the Erikson-Goldthorpe-Portocarero (EGP) Schema. The decision to adopt the EGP classification as the basis for ESeC was made because it is widely used and accepted internationally, is conceptually clear, and has been reasonably validated both in criterion terms as a measure and in construct terms as a good predictor of health and educational outcomes. ESeC improves on the EGP Schema in terms of more thorough validation and better documentation for comparative purposes.