Longitudinal studies show a clear relationship between educational disadvantage and long term ‘wage scarring’


NB – I’m moving most of the material on here to my new site – ReviseSociology.com – check it out for everything related to AS and A level Sociology

The ESRC has got some really nice links to recent Longitudinal Studies [1]. What these studies suggest is that there are links between Vocational Education not benefitting students at the bottom of the social ladder and their future poverty – whether they end up in work or not! The study looks at youths from the 1991 birth cohort, so it includes people who would have been exposed to a similar education system to some of those rioting last week.

I’m particularly struck by this very brief summary of the The Wolf Report (2010) – An independent review of Vocational Education commissioned by the sectretary of state – to summarise some of what’s in the study

The review drew on research evidence including data from the 1958, 1970 and 1991 birth cohort studies in order to examine the relationship between educational achievement, aspiration and access to jobs. Research showed that many 16-and 17-year-olds move in and out of education and short-term employment, without progressing successfully into secure employment or higher-level education and training. The report also concluded that many of the vocational qualifications on offer are of little value in the labour market, with an estimated minimum of 350,000 people getting little to no benefit from the post-16 education system.

The report goes onto say that the Government accepted that there were failings in its education system and that it has gone on to make some changes – such as improving early years intervention.

Another Longitudinal study using data from the National Child Development Survey that looked at the relationship between youth unemployment and future wages finds that –

‘Male youth unemployment has an impact on wages up to 20 years later. There is a large (13-21 per cent) and significant wage penalty at age 42 for being unemployed for over a year between age 16 and 23.’

So when looking at the riots I wonder if the the government will accept its own research that says its education system has let down 350 000 people at the bottom – Even if there were jobs for all of those people – the education they’ve received is unecessary for the type of jobs they are likely to go into – and even if they do end up in work, they face a future of in-work poverty!

[1] A longitudinal study tracks a sample of people over long periods of time -often many decades -in order to reveal developmental trends across generations.




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