Relative educational mobility
Data on how the education level of people in the UK compares to their parents’ education level.
- Summary main findings
- By year
- By area
- By sex
- By ethnicity
- By disability status
- About the data
- Download the data
Summary main findings
Between 1991 and 2020, relative educational mobility went up for people aged 28 to 37 years. This means that people’s chances of getting a degree became less related to whether their parents had a degree or not.
There was a higher level of relative educational mobility among men than women.
Relative educational mobility was similar:
- across all ethnic groups in the UK
- for people with or without a long-term illness or disability
Relative educational mobility was greater in Scotland, but did not vary significantly across other parts of the UK.
Visualisation for by year
Parent:child odds ratios relating to university degrees, respondents aged 28 to 37 years (UK, 1991 to 2020)
Data for by year
|Year||Parent:child odds ratio|
Visualisation for by area
Parent:child odds ratios relating to university degrees, respondents aged 25 to 64 years, by area (UK, 2020)
Data for by area
|Region||Parent:child odds ratio|
|Yorkshire & Humberside||5.59|
|East of England||5.51|
|Average for all regions||4.35|
Visualisation for by sex
Parent:child odds ratios relating to university degrees, respondents aged 25 to 64 years, by sex (UK, 2020)
Data for by sex
|Sex||Parent:child odds ratio|
Visualisation for by ethnicity
Parent:child odds ratios relating to university degrees, respondents aged 25 to 64 years, by ethnicity (UK, 2020)
Data for by ethnicity
|Ethnicity||Parent:child odds ratio|
- Visualisation for by disability status
- Data for by disability status
- Download for by disability status
Visualisation for by disability status
Parent:child odds ratios relating to university degrees, respondents aged 25 to 64 years, by disability status (UK, 2020)
Data for by disability status
|Disabled||Parent:child odds ratio|
UK Household Longitudinal Survey (UKHLS)
1991 to 2020
What the data measures
The data measures relative educational mobility among 25 to 64 year olds in the UK.
It shows the link between parents’ and children’s education level by sex, ethnicity, disability status and area.
For this data, education is used as a binary measure of attainment of an undergraduate degree qualification versus not.
A higher odds ratio means a greater link between parents’ and children’s education levels (‘intergenerational persistence’), while a lower odds ratio means greater relative mobility.
Things you need to know
Formal modelling of the data with logistic regression shows that:
- the odds ratios for men and women are significantly different from each other
- the odds ratios for the different ethnic groups are not significantly different from each other
- the odds ratio for Scotland is significantly lower
Odds ratios for the Chinese ethnic group could not be calculated due to the small sample size.
For data by disability status, respondents were asked if they had a physical or mental impairment, illness or disability for at least 12 months. This is different from Labour Force Survey data, which specifies that the condition should be both long-term and limiting. We do not know how long respondents had the illness or disability, and it is possible that they completed their education before the illness or disability occurred. Because of this, the data is likely to underestimate the effects of disability.
The error bars show 95% confidence intervals. These intervals show where we expect the true value from a population to be 95% of the time. For example, a confidence interval with the range of values from 5 to 10 implies that there is a 95% chance that the true population value is between 5 and 10, and a 5% chance that it is outside of this range. The narrower the confidence interval or range, the more precise the estimate. Read more about confidence intervals
Type of data
Survey data, weighted using the UKHLS population weights
Read more in State of the Nation 2023 on GOV.UK.
This file contains the following variables:
- Indicator code
- Indicator name
- Area type
- Area name
- Time period
- Category type
- Lower confidence interval
- Upper confidence interval