For some, luck matters more: the impact of the great recession on the early careers of graduates from different socio-economic backgrounds

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

October 11, 2021


This article uses variation in unemployment caused by the 2008 UK recession to analyse socio-economic gaps in graduate outcomes. Our data come from a survey that collects information on several cohorts of students from all English universities and reports their destinations at 6 months after graduation. The results show that, when graduating in a recession, students from less advantaged family backgrounds are more likely to become unemployed, to work part-time, and to earn less than students from more advantaged families. There is evidence that professional networks established while at university are important in explaining some of these socio-economic gaps in outcomes.

Published in

Oxford Economic Papers






Online Early

Open Access

© Oxford University Press 2021.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact

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