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Private Benefits? External Benefits? Outcomes of Private Schooling in 21st Century Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2019

UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK email:
UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK email:
UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK email:
UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK email:


Policy discourse surrounding Britain’s unusually well-resourced private schools surrounds their charitable status and their relationship with low social mobility, but informative evidence is scarce. We present estimates of the extent to which private and external benefits at age 25 are associated with attendance at private school in England in the 21st century. We find a weekly wage premium of 17 percent, and a 12 percentage point lower chance of downward social mobility. By contrast, private schooling is not significantly associated with participation in local voluntary groups, unpaid voluntary work, or charitable giving and fundraising; this finding casts doubt on claims that private schools deliver ‘public benefit’ in this way.

© Cambridge University Press 2019

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