Educational Inequality and the Expansion of UK Higher Education

19 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2013

See all articles by Jo Blanden

Jo Blanden

University of Surrey; London School of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Stephen J. Machin

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics

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Date Written: November 2013

Abstract

In this paper we explore changes over time in higher education (HE) participation and attainment between people from richer and poorer family backgrounds during a time period when the UK higher education system expanded at a rapid rate. We use longitudinal data from three time periods to study temporal shifts in HE participation and attainment across parental income groups for children going to university in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The key finding is a highly policy relevant one, namely that HE expansion has not been equally distributed across people from richer and poorer backgrounds. Rather, it has disproportionately benefited children from relatively rich families. Despite the fact that many more children from higher income backgrounds participated in HE before the recent expansion of the system, the expansion acted to widen participation gaps between rich and poor children. This finding is robust to different measures of education participation and inequality. It also emerges from non‐parametric estimations and from a more detailed econometric model allowing for the sequential nature of education choices with potentially different income associations at different stages of the education sequence.

Suggested Citation

Blanden, Jo and Machin, Stephen J., Educational Inequality and the Expansion of UK Higher Education (November 2013). Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 60, Issue 5, pp. 578-596, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2335788 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sjpe.12024

Jo Blanden (Contact Author)

University of Surrey ( email )

Guildford
Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH
United Kingdom

London School of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Stephen J. Machin

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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