Filial intelligence and family social class, 1947 to 2012

Lindsay Paterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Intelligence, or cognitive ability, is a key variable in reproducing social inequality. On the one hand, it is associated with the social class in which a child grows up. On the other, it is a predictor of educational attainment, labour-market experiences, social mobility, health and well-being, and length of life. Therefore measured intelligence is important to our understanding of how inequality operates and is reproduced. The present analysis uses social surveys of children aged 10 to 11 years in Britain between 1947 and 2012 to assess whether the social-class distribution of intelligence has changed. The main conclusions are that, although children’s intelligence relative to their peers remains associated with social class, the association may have weakened recently, mainly because the average intelligence in the highest-status classes may have moved closer to the mean.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Pages (from-to)325-345
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Science
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • intelligence
  • cognitive ability
  • social class
  • parental education


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