Who gets the best jobs?

Some of the top professions are increasingly being filled by individuals who look less different to the average in terms of ability and more different to the average in terms of family income.

Family background characteristics are still influencing who gets the UK’s top job1. Evidence suggests that those who go on to become lawyers and doctors are from substantially richer families than those who go on to become engineers or nurses. Consistent with other evidence on social mobility, this trend appears to have worsened for many of the top professions over time.

For those born in 1970 compared to those born in 1958, the gaps in family income between top professions and the sample average has increased. However, evidence on the ability levels suggests that while those who became doctors and lawyers were of higher ability than the average, this trend has decreased over time. This would suggest that there is a widening social gap in entry to the top professions.

Interventions needed to promote mobility into working life