Send to

Choose Destination
Soc Sci Res. 2019 Jan;77:179-192. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.08.010. Epub 2018 Aug 31.

Family fortunes: The persisting grandparents' effects in contemporary British society.

Author information

Institute for Social & Economic Research, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ, UK. Electronic address:
Institute for Empirical Social Science Research, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, 710049, Shaanxi, China; Department of Sociology and Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research, The University of Manchester, Oxford Rd, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK. Electronic address:


This study examines grandparents' effects on grandchildren in contemporary British society. We begin with grandchildren's occupational aspiration in their adolescent years and move on to assess their educational and class attainment in adulthood. Using the British Household Panel Survey and the UK Household Longitudinal Study, we find persisting grandparental effects in all three domains even after controlling for parents' socio-economic-cultural resources and other demographic and contextual factors. In addition, we find that self-employed grandparents have a strong impact on grandsons' (albeit not on granddaughters') likelihood of engagement in self-employment, a pattern that holds true even when parents are not self-employed. Our study shows that grandparents' class still affects grandchildren's life chances in contemporary UK society just as earlier research showed for mid-20th century Britain and that the effects are manifested at different stages of the life course, from occupational aspiration as teenagers to educational attainment as young adults to occupational destination as adults.


Class aspiration; Educational and occupational attainment; Grandparents' effects; Self-employment; UK

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center