Education and high-status occupations in the UK since the middle of the twentieth century

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

January 19, 2022


Previous research on historical trends in the UK in social-class and sex inequality in educational attainment and in occupational opportunity is extended well into the present century by means of the UK Household Longitudinal Study, with a particular focus on variation among England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England, Wales and Scotland, class inequality of educational attainment declined during the transition to non-selective secondary schooling and to mass higher education. But the decline also was observed in Northern Ireland, which retained a selective system. The relationship between education and occupational destinations is then investigated for the same period of time. The use of recent data allowed this to be extended to the mature class destination even of the youngest cohort, who had experienced the stable system of comprehensive schools in the 1990s. Inequality of this opportunity also declined, but again with no particular connection to the educational reforms.

Supplemental data for this article is available online at .

Published in

British Journal of Sociology of Education






Open Access

© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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