Working class, professional people paid less than those from affluent backgrounds

working class pay gap
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Professional people from working class backgrounds are paid less than their colleagues from more affluent backgrounds, new research reveals.

The study, by the Social Mobility Commission, found that those from working class backgrounds were paid £6,800 less than their colleagues – uncovering a ‘class pay gap across Britain’s professions.

The report also found that access to Britain’s professions remains dominated by those from more privileged backgrounds. However, even when those from working class backgrounds do break through the barrier, they face an earnings penalty compared to those who come from better-off backgrounds.

Even when they have the same education attainment, role and experience as their more privileged colleagues, the report finds that those from poorer backgrounds are still paid an average of £2,472 less. Women and ethnic minorities face a ‘double’ disadvantage in earnings.

Traditional professions such as medicine, law, journalism and academia remain dominated by those from advantaged backgrounds – nearly 73 per cent of doctors are from professional and managerial backgrounds with less than six per cent from working class backgrounds.

Academics from the London School of Economics (LSE) and University College London (UCL) used extensive data from the UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) – the largest survey of employment in the UK with over 90,000 respondents – to examine access to the professions and the impact of socio-economic backgrounds on earnings.

Speaking about the findings, the Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said, “This unprecedented research provides powerful new evidence that Britain remains a deeply elitist society.”

“Too many people from working class backgrounds not only face barriers getting into the professions, but also barriers to getting on.”

“It cannot be right that they face an annual class pay gap of £6,800.”

“How much you are paid should be determined by your ability not your background.”

“Employers need to take action to end the shocking class earnings penalty.”

Dr Lindsey Macmillan, UCL, said, “While it is important to look at the experience of those in the professions, it is also important to understand wider issues with access into the workplace.”

“We examined the experience of households with low levels of work and have found that there is no evidence of generations of families never working.”

“The biggest risk to ending up workless as an adult is living in a high-unemployment area and poor health.”

Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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