Social class in national statistics

With the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC), ESRC-funded sociology research became the basis for the official measure of social class in the UK. Since 2001 the NS-SEC has been the primary national social classification, used in all official statistics.

Between 1994 and 1999 the Office for National Statistics and ESRC funded the Review of Government Social Classifications, which created the NS-SEC to replace the two existing classifications - Social Class based on Occupation (SC) and Socio-economic Groups (SEG).

Following recommendations from the first phase of the review, ONS accepted the continuing need for an official measure of social class. However, SC and SEG were deemed inadequate, and a new classification was needed.

Working with the ONS, researchers led by a team from the University of Essex's Institute for Social and Economic Research developed a revised version of the 'Goldthorpe Schema', an internationally recognised sociological classification developed by John Goldthorpe in the early 1970s.

As well as being adopted widely in UK statistics, the NS-SEC has also been used as the model for the European Socio-economic Classification.