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The ESRC Review of Government Social Classifications

Phase 4 – Rebasing the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification (NS-SEC) on the Standard Occupational Classification 2000 (SOC 2000).

The Final Version of the NS-SEC

Since the publication of an interim version of the NS-SEC (Rose and O’Reilly 1998) further development work has been undertaken and a final version of the NS-SEC has now been produced. This short note highlights the main differences between the interim and final versions. Later this year ONS and ESRC will publish a substantially revised version of our 1998 report and Sage will be publishing an edited handbook containing the results of validation studies using the final version of NS-SEC.

How the NS-SEC is derived

A person’s NS-SEC position (their ‘class’) depends upon the combination of their current or last main job and their employment status (i.e. whether an employer, self-employed, a manager, a supervisor or an employee). Thus, for example, a self-employed plumber would be in a different class from a plumber with 25 employees, and both would be in different classes from an employee plumber, who in turn would be in a different class from a supervisor of plumbers.

A person’s job title is classified to one of the unit groups of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC). The interim NS-SEC announced in 1998 was based on the 371 unit groups of the old SOC, SOC90. The new NS-SEC is based on the 353 unit groups of the new SOC, SOC2000. This has led to some important differences between the interim NS-SEC and the final version.

These differences are mainly due to the fact that the new unit groups of SOC2000 make it easier to achieve the conceptual aims of the NS-SEC. That is, using SOC2000, there is a better relationship between what we want the NS-SEC to measure in theory and what we can actually measure in practice.

David Rose, David Pevalin, Peter Elias and Jean Martin (January 2001) Towards A European Socio-economic Classification: Final Report to Eurostat of the Expert Group. London: Office for National Statistics

David Rose and David J. Pevalin (April 2001) The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification: Unifying Official and Sociological Approaches to the Conceptualisation and Measurement of Social Class, Paper 2001-04. Working papers of the Institute for Social and Economic Research. Colchester: University of Essex