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The role of education in intergenerational social mobility
£520,435, Economic and Social Research Council Intergenerational social mobility has become an issue of central policy concern in Britain and there is a large degree of political consensus on the need to create a more mobile and ‘open’ society. This project will seek to answer key questions on the role of education in increasing social mobility: • How great an effect can educational expansion and reform have on rates of social mobility? • Does the importance of education vary with different mobility transitions, for example upward and downward, or with characteristics of individuals? • What are the causal mechanisms through which education determines mobility chances? • What other factors determine mobility, and is the importance of education relative to these factors increasing or decreasing over time? The research involves analysis of the 1946, 1958 and 1970 British birth cohort studies, and the UK Household Longitudinal Study, which together cover over half a century of major changes in the social stratification of British society and the educational system. The rich data of these studies allows researchers to address a number of so far relatively neglected issues relating to mobility, including the importance of individuals’ cognitive abilities and the impact of education and qualifications gained after entry into the labour market, and to examine the social mobility experience of women as well as men. The aim is to provide a new empirical basis for the evaluation of policies, both within and beyond the field of education, and contribute significantly to academic debates on social mobility. The project is funded by Economic and Social Research Council from March 2012 to February 2015. It was developed at the IOE, but moved to the University of Oxford with the Principal Investigator.
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