Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Disentangling the importance of individual and family factors on educational and labour market outcomes using a sibling design

Project Number:



Prof Cristina Iannelli (University of Edinburgh)
Dr Adriana Duta (University of Edinburgh)
Francesca Fiori (University of St Andrews)

Start Date:

January 2018


In our project, we aim to analyse the relative importance of social class vs. other family factors and non-family-related factors for individuals’ education and labour market outcomes by examining siblings nested in families and social classes. By analysing siblings’ outcomes, we will be able to decompose the variation in the outcomes of interest (i.e. educational attainment, subject choices, school attendance but also labour market outcomes) into three parts: (1) variation within families in the same class (between siblings); (2) variation between families (sibling pairs) in the same class; (3) variation between classes of origin. This approach will help us to assess more accurately the interplay between the social class of the family of origin and other family and individual characteristics in shaping individuals’ life chances and whether this is similar across different groups/family settings (e.g. gender, family types) and other macro-level characteristics (e.g. geographical area of residence – if the data allows for such fine-grained analysis).

Our study contributes to the existing literature by applying a sibling design (distinguishing between twins and other type of siblings) to disentangle the relative importance of individual and family factors on educational outcomes in a new context (Scotland) and using more recent cohorts (pupils enrolled in secondary school between 2007-2013) for which administrative education data is available and can be linked. Our project will focus more in-depth on the interplay between the social class of the family of origin and the other family and individual characteristics by scrutinizing the relative importance of parental social class compared to the other characteristics. Also, the data allows further partitioning the variance in our outcomes at the area of residence level. This will add a spatial component to the analysis which will improve our understanding of the influence of contextual factors on individuals’ educational and labour market outcomes. To this end, various area-level statistical indicators will be used to investigate which particular characteristics of the area matter for our outcomes of interest.


Björklund, A., Eriksson, T., Jäntti, M., Raaum, O., & Österbacka, E. (2002). Brother correlations in earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden compared to the United States. Journal of Population Economics, 15(4), 757-772.

Breen, R. (Ed.) (2004) Social mobility in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conley, D., & Glauber, R. (2008). All in the family?: Family composition, resources, and sibling similarity in socioeconomic status. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 26(4), 297-306.

Iannelli, C. and Paterson, L. (2007) ‘Education and Social Mobility in Scotland’, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 25(3): 219-232.

Knigge, A., Maas, I., Van Leeuwen, M. H., & Mandemakers, K. (2014). Status attainment of siblings during modernization. American Sociological Review, 79(3), 549-574.

Rasbash, J., Leckie, G., Pillinger, R., & Jenkins, J. (2010). Children's educational progress: partitioning family, school and area effects. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 173(3), 657-682.

Shavit, Y. and Blossfeld, H.P. (1993) Persistent inequality: Changing educational attainment in thirteen countries. Boulder: Westview Press.

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