Schooling and unequal outcomes in youth and adulthood

The role of schooling in determining educational attainment, occupational outcomes and social mobility remains high on the policy agenda:

  • Are certain types of schools or schools with certain characteristics more successful than others and why? 
  • Do some types of school suit some pupils better than others? 
  • To what extent is schooling implicated in social and educational inequalities in Britain? 

In a time of increasing school diversity, selectivity and marketisation, these questions are more salient than ever. 

The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) should be a prime data source for addressing these and related questions. The dataset provides a rich range of family background and ability measures, providing a substantial advantage in dealing with the issue of selectivity into the different types of school. However, work using the 1970 cohort has previously been hampered by the absence of secondary school data for the majority of the cohort members. 

About the project

There are two main aims of this project:

  • To repair and enhance the 1986 wave of data of the BCS70. Due to a schools strike in 1986, data on secondary schools are only available for 40 per cent of the sample. In addition, the majority of the cognitive tests taken by the cohort members in 1986 were never deposited. This project will derive and deposit new variables which will greatly enhance the value of the BCS70 dataset for researchers interested in education, social mobility and related areas.
  • To use the newly enhanced data to conduct a programme of multidisciplinary research. This will address substantive research questions of significant policy interest regarding the short and long term consequences of different primary and secondary school contexts, across a range of domains.

This project will run from October 2013 to April 2017 and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council


Green, F., Parsons, S., Sullivan, A. and Wiggins, R. (2015) Dreaming big: Self-evaluations, aspirations, high-valued social networks, and the private school earnings premium. CLS working paper 2015/9. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Sullivan, Alice, Parsons, Samantha, Wiggins, Richard, Heath, Anthony & Green, Francis (2014) 'Social origins, school type and higher education destinations', Oxford Review of Education, Volume 40, Issue 6, 2014.

CLS contact

Alice Sullivan,

Director and PI of BCS70

Alice is the Director and Principal Investigator of the 1970 British Cohort Study. Her research interests are focussed on social and educational inequalities, including inequalities of social class, gender and ethnicity. Email Alice

Project team:

Alice Sullivan, CLS, Principal Investigator
Sam Parsons, CLS, Co-Investigator
Dick Wiggins, CLS, Co-Investigator
Francis Green, IOE, Co-Investigator