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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lindsey Macmillan & Claire Tyler & Anna Vignoles, 2013. "Who gets the Top Jobs? The role of family background and networks in recent graduates' access to high status professions," DoQSS Working Papers 13-15, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
  • Handle: RePEc:qss:dqsswp:1315
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    File URL: http://repec.ioe.ac.uk/REPEc/pdf/qsswp1315.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2010. "Intergenerational Persistence in Income and Social Class: The Impact of Within-Group Inequality," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 10/230, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    2. 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.
    3. 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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    6. Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2011. "Differences by degree: Evidence of the net financial rates of return to undergraduate study for England and Wales," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1177-1186.
    7. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2004. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects, and Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1056-1093, December.
    8. Bingley, Paul & Corak, Miles & Westergård-Nielsen, Niels C., 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Employers in Canada and Denmark," IZA Discussion Papers 5593, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Paul Gregg & Jan. O. Jonsson & Lindsey Macmillan & Carina Mood, 2013. "Understanding income mobility: the role of education for intergenerational income persistence in the US, UK and Sweden," DoQSS Working Papers 13-12, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    10. 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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    13. 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.
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Emergence
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2014-08-29 17:57:16
    2. Elitist Britain: We need a better understanding of the routes through which those from more advantaged backgrounds access top careers
      by Blog Admin in British Politics and Policy at LSE on 2014-09-10 12:00:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Raitano Michele & Francesco Vona, 2015. "From the cradle to the grave : the effect of family background on the career path of italian men," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2015-05, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    2. Claire Crawford, 2014. "Socio-economic differences in university outcomes in the UK: drop-out, degree completion and degree class," IFS Working Papers W14/31, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. Claire Crawford & Anna Vignoles, 2014. "Heterogeneity in graduate earnings by socio-economic background," IFS Working Papers W14/30, Institute for Fiscal Studies.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intergenerational mobility; social mobility; networks;

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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