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Cabinet Office cites CMPO research

10 November 2008

The Cabinet Office Strategy Unit Report, 'Getting on, getting ahead', cited a number of recent research findings by CMPO's Paul Gregg, Lindsey Macmillan and Liz Washbrook. Gregg and Macmillan have found that family income is playing a less important role in the academic success of children than it has done in the past.

Research findings by Bristol's Centre for Market and Public Organisation (CMPO), the London School of Economics and the Institute of Fiscal Studies confirm that social mobility in the UK has improved since 2000, having been static over the period 1970-2000. These findings have been cited in a recent study published by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, set up by the Cabinet Office to provide policy advice to government.

In their paper 'Getting on, getting ahead' (PDF, 1,574kB), the Strategy Unit cited a several CMPO research papers:

  • Paul Gregg and Lindsey Macmillan have found that a child's academic achievement - measured by the number of GCSEs they pass - is becoming less dependent on family income. Gregg and Macmillan examined the effects of family income on GCSE attainment of a group of children born in 1990-91 who took their exams in 2006. They found that the effect of income on attainment for this group was statistically weaker than that for the cohort born in 1970. The Strategy Unit summarises the significance of Gregg and Macmillan's research: 'These findings, therefore, suggest that family background will have less of an impact on the income of these children when they reach adulthood, than those born in 1970 - they are likely to experience higher social mobility.'
  • In their 2006 CMPO working paper Jo Blanden, Paul Gregg and Lindsey Macmillan report that school qualifications at age 16 are the most important determinant of intergenerational income persistence, though cognitive and noncognitive skills remain important.
  • And the Strategy Unit also cited recent research by Jane Waldfogel (Columbia) and Liz Washbrook (CMPO). In their paper 'Early Years Policy' Waldfogel and Washbrook examine the cognitive and social development of recent generations of British and American children at the time of school entry. They show that low income children score substantially lower on a range of tests in both countries, and that these deficits are strongly linked to differences in parenting behaviours between disadvantaged and more affluent parents.

The research findings have naturally attracted some media interest. Use these links for details of the BBC, Times, Financial Times and Guardian coverage.

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