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Occupation and education

About the research

Full project title: Harmonising measures of occupation and education

This project examined how social background has influenced the educational attainment and careers of generations of British people, by harmonising measures of socio-economic status and educational attainment.

This allowed the project team to see how an individual’s socio-economic status can change over their lifetime, and how levels of social mobility have altered across different generations.

Over the years, different measures of social background have been used by CLOSER studies, but this harmonised dataset uses one common measure, Registrar General’s Social Class (father’s occupation), to determine socio-economic position.

To enable comparisons of childhood social background across generations, the new dataset contains information on family social class at one point in childhood − nearest to age 10/11. For adulthood comparisons of socio-economic position across the studies, data has been taken nearest to age 42.

Research leads

Chris Belfield

Claire Crawford

Dr Claire Crawford (Institute for Fiscal Studies) and Chris Belfield (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Studies used

Research outputs

  • Dataset containing harmonised variables measuring occupation from five longitudinal population studies – now available from the UK Data Service.
  • A user guide to accompany the harmonised occupation dataset – available to download from the UK Data Service
  • Dataset and documentation for education variables – not yet available. Sign up to CLOSER’s email newsletters to find out when they are published.



  • Belfield C, Crawford C, Greaves E, Gregg P, Macmillan L. Intergenerational income persistence within families. Institute for Fiscal Studies Working Paper W17/11. The Institute for Fiscal Studies. 2017.

Read about other CLOSER data harmonisation projects.