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Who gets the Top Jobs? The role of family background and networks in recent graduates' access to high status professions

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Author Info

  • Lindsey Macmillan

    ()
    (Department of Quantitative Social Science, Institute of Education, University of London)

  • Claire Tyler

    ()
    (Department of Quantitative Social Science, Institute of Education, University of London)

  • Anna Vignoles

    ()
    (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge)

Abstract

There is currently a debate in policy circles about access to "the upper echelons of power" (Sir John Major, ex Prime Minister, 2013). This research seeks to understand the relationship between family background and early access to top occupations. We find that privately educated graduates are a third more likely to enter into high status occupations than state educated graduates from similarly affluent families and neighbourhoods. A modest part of this difference is driven by educational attainment with a larger part of the story working through the university that the privately educated graduates attend. Staying on to do a Masters and higher degree is also a (smaller) part of the picture. We explore one potential mechanism which is often posited as a route in accessing top jobs: the role of networks. We find that although networks cannot account for the private school advantage, the use of networks provides an additional advantage over and above background and this varies by the type of top occupation that the graduate enters. A private school graduate who uses personal networks to enter into a top managerial position has a 1.5 percentage point advantage (on a baseline 6.1%) over a state school graduate who uses other ways to find their job.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London in its series DoQSS Working Papers with number 13-15.

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Date of creation: 04 Dec 2013
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Handle: RePEc:qss:dqsswp:1315

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Keywords: intergenerational mobility; social mobility; networks;

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  1. Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2010. "Differences by Degree: Evidence of the Net Financial Rates of Return to Undergraduate Study for England and Wales," IZA Discussion Papers 5254, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Steven Haider & Gary Solon, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variation in the Association between Current and Lifetime Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1308-1320, September.
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  7. Nicoletti Cheti & Ermisch John F, 2008. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Changes across Cohorts in Britain," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(2), pages 1-38, January.
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  9. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2003. "Networks in Labor Markets: Wage and Employment Dynamics and Inequality," Working Papers 55, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  10. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2011. "Subject choice and earnings of UK graduates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1187-1201.
  11. Holzer, Harry J, 1988. "Search Method Use by Unemployed Youth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 1-20, January.
  12. Linda Datcher Loury, 2006. "Some Contacts Are More Equal than Others: Informal Networks, Job Tenure, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 299-318, April.
  13. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2002. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects and Inequality," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0217, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  14. Bratti, Massimiliano & Naylor, Robin & Smith, Jeremy, 2005. "Variations in the Wage Returns to a First Degree: Evidence from the British Cohort Study 1970," IZA Discussion Papers 1631, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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