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Educational Inequality and the Expansion of UK Higher Education

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  • Jo Blanden
  • Stephen Machin

Abstract

In this paper we explore changes over time in higher education (HE) participation and attainment between people from richer and poorer family backgrounds during a time period when the UK higher education system expanded at a rapid rate. We use longitudinal data from three time periods to study temporal shifts in HE participation and attainment across parental income groups for children going to university in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The key finding is a highly policy relevant one, namely that HE expansion has not been equally distributed across people from richer and poorer backgrounds. Rather, it has disproportionately benefited children from relatively rich families. Despite the fact that many more children from higher income backgrounds participated in HE before the recent expansion of the system, the expansion acted to widen participation gaps between rich and poor children. This finding is robust to different measures of education participation and inequality. It also emerges from non-parametric estimations and from a more detailed econometric model allowing for the sequential nature of education choices with potentially different income associations at different stages of the education sequence. Copyright (c) Scottish Economic Society 2004.

Suggested Citation

  • Jo Blanden & Stephen Machin, 2004. "Educational Inequality and the Expansion of UK Higher Education," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(2), pages 230-249, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scotjp:v:51:y:2004:i:2:p:230-249
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
    2. Machin, Stephen, 1996. "Wage Inequality in the UK," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 47-64, Spring.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, J. -S., 2001. "Changes in the wage structure, family income, and children's education," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 890-904, May.
    4. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 6385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244.
    6. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    7. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
    8. David Greenaway & Michelle Haynes, 2003. "Funding Higher Education in The UK: The Role of Fees and Loans," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 150-166, February.
    9. Richard Blundell & Alan Duncan, 1998. "Kernel Regression in Empirical Microeconomics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 62-87.
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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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