Childhood intelligence, locus of control and behaviour disturbance as determinants of intergenerational social mobility: British Cohort Study 1970

Von Stumm, Sophie; Gale, Catharine R.; Batty, G. David and Dreary, Ian J.. 2009. Childhood intelligence, locus of control and behaviour disturbance as determinants of intergenerational social mobility: British Cohort Study 1970. Intelligence, 37(4), pp. 329-340. ISSN 0160-2896 [Article]

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Determinants of intergenerational social mobility were examined in 8287 men from the British Cohort Study 1970. Confirming previous research, parental social class, childhood intelligence, and educational qualifications were the strongest predictors of occupational social class at the age of 30. Locus of control and childhood behaviour disturbance had independent significant effects and accounted for additional amounts of variance. Self-esteem had only a trivial influence on social mobility. Structural equation modelling using full information maximum likelihood estimation demonstrated that: educational qualifications mediated other predictors' effects, accounting for the greatest amount of variance in people's own social status attainment; there was a substantial overlap of childhood behavioural disturbance, intelligence, and locus of control; there were effects of parental social class on own occupational social class attainment. Intergenerational social mobility is determined by a nexus of inter-correlated variables whose independent effects remain difficult to disentangle.

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The UK Medical Research Council and the University of Edinburgh provide core funding for the MRC Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology which supported this research. The 1980 follow-up was carried out by the Department of Child Health, Bristol University. The 1986 follow-up was carried out by the International Centre for Child Studies. The 30-year follow-up was carried out under the auspices of the Joint Centre for Longitudinal Research (comprising the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London, the International Centre for Health and Society, University College Medical School, London, and the National Centre for Social Research). We thank the UK Data Archive, University of Essex, for providing the data. The original data creators, depositors or copyright holders, the funding agencies, and the UK Data Archive bear no responsibility for the analyses and interpretation presented here. We thank Keith Widaman who was one of the referees and made valuable suggestions which improved the paper.


Intelligence; Social class; Social mobility; Childhood behaviour; Locus of control; Education; Occupation

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July 2009Published

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30 Jan 2015 11:32

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04 Jul 2017 13:56

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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