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Who Gets the Top Jobs? The Role of Family Background and Networks in Recent Graduates’ Access to High-status Professions

  • LINDSEY MACMILLAN (a1), CLAIRE TYLER (a2) and ANNA VIGNOLES (a3)

Abstract

There is currently debate in policy circles about access to ‘the upper echelons of power’ (Sir John Major, ex Prime Minister, 2013). This research explores 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, largely due to differences in educational attainment and university selection. We find that although the use of networks cannot account for the private school advantage, they provide an additional advantage and this varies by the type of top occupation that the graduate enters.

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