Survey Variable: Parental Occupational Class

As well as asking about demographics such as age, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, the Privilege and Participation survey also asked about the occupational class of people’s parents. Specifically, and quite unusually, it asked them to think back to when they were fourteen and write in the jobs that their mother and father did at that time, if they could remember. These answers were then manually coded to the National Statistics Socio-economic classification (NS-SEC), and the results can be seen in Figure 1 (above, using weighted data).[1] A quarter of people’s mothers (26.6%) were in lower managerial, administrative, or professional roles, whilst almost as many (22.8%) were in semi-routine roles (panel A). Around one in six people (16.7%) had mothers in intermediate occupations, and a further one in eight (12.6%) had mothers in routine occupations. The remainder had mothers who were small employers or self-employed (9.2%), or in lower supervisory or technical (7.8%), higher professional (3.7%), or higher managerial or administrative (0.6%) roles. Crucially, these are only the answers from people who listed an occupation for their mothers, and more than two fifths of people (42.1%) did not do so.

By contrast, more than four fifths of people (81.1%) provided an occupation for their father (panel B), and more than a fifth of those (22.1%) had fathers in lower managerial, administrative, or professional roles. Around one in six people’s (17.0%) fathers were in lower supervisory or technical roles, and one in seven (14.2%) had fathers who were small employers or self-employed. The remainder had fathers in higher professional (13.3%), routine (12.8%), semi-routine (8.6%), intermediate (7.6%), or higher managerial or administrative (4.5%) roles. Thus, amongst those who gave an answer, two fifths (39.9%) had fathers in ‘middle class’ (lower managerial, administrative, and professional; higher professional; large employers and higher managerial or administrative) occupations. A further fifth (21.8%) had fathers in intermediate occupations (intermediate; small employer or self-employed), and the remaining two fifths (38.4%) had fathers in ‘working class’ occupations (lower supervisory or technical; semi-routine; routine). By contrast, amongst those who gave an answer, less than a third (30.9%) had mothers in ‘middle class’ occupations, a quarter (25.9%) had mothers in intermediate occupations, and more than two fifths (43.2%) had mothers in ‘working class’ occupations. Thus, people’s dads were more likely to be in ‘middle class’ occupations than their mums were.

Almost nine in ten people (88.3%) gave an occupation for at least one of their parents (panel C) and three in ten of them (30.3%) indicated that lower managerial, administrative, or professional was the highest occupational status held by either of their parents. This was by far the most popular category, after which very similar numbers (between one in eight and one in nine) indicated that the highest occupational status of either of their parents was higher professional (13.0%), lower supervisory or technical (12.6%), small employer or self-employed (11.9%), or intermediate (11.1%). Finally, smaller numbers (one in ten or fewer) indicated that the highest occupational status of either of their parents was semi-routine (9.7%), routine (7.2%), or higher managerial or administrative (4.3%). Overall, then, people tend to have parents who were in ‘lower middle class’ occupations and approaching half (47.6%) have parents who were in some form of ‘middle class’ occupation. This leaves more than a fifth (23.0%) with parents who were in intermediate occupations and three in ten (19.5%) with parents who were in ‘working class’ occupations.

Variable namesback_mo_irmv, back_fo_irmv
Number of cases814-1,139
Number of categories8
Categories to code as missingNone
Cases to code as missingNone
Recoded variable namesback_pocc_irmv
Number of cases1,241
Number of categories8
New and old categoriesIf respondents provided an occupation
for only one of their parents then it was
taken as the highest occupational class.
Otherwise, the higher of the two parental
occupational classes was used, with the
categories remaining the same across
both old and new variables. Respondents
who did not indicate an occupation for
either parent were coded as missing on
the new variable.
Details of the original and recoded parental occupational class variables.

[1] See also Table A1.

Published by joegreenwoodhau

Joe Greenwood-Hau is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Government & Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, where he works on the Capital, Privilege and Political Participation in Britain and Beyond project.

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