The European Socio-economic Classification: a new social class schema for comparative European research

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

July 1, 2007


As a result of an initiative by the European Statistical Office as part of its Statistical Harmonisation Programme, a prototype of a common European Socio-economic Classification (ESeC) has been created. ESeC is a categorical social class schema based on the concept of employment relations. The paper explains the conceptual basis of ESeC, describes the categories of the classification and how they may be collapsed for analytic purposes, as well as indicating how it is operationalised. The operational variants of ESeC, depending on the data available for its construction, are also discussed. In the second part of the paper some key findings of comparative analyses which use ESeC to examine issues relating to unemployment, education, poverty, deprivation and health across the EU are summarised. These analyses demonstrate the potential of ESeC as a major advance for an improved understanding of the patterns of European social inequalities. As such, this new classification should be of vital importance to both academic and policy researchers.

Published in

European Societies

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 9 (3): 459-490 , p.459 -490




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