The Social Mobility Commission report shows that in areas with low social mobility, pay gaps between deprived and affluent men are two and a half times larger than in areas of high social mobility.

The new data, which tracks the educational and labour market experiences of over 800,000 state-educated boys born in the late-1980s, indicate that earnings gaps in areas of high social mobility are largely driven by educational attainment.

However, in areas of low social mobility, the data suggests the over 30 per cent of the pay gap is driven by non-educational factors, such as family background and local labour markets. This suggests that policy interventions need to address both educational attainment and regional labour market inequalities. While TASO is focused on the first, we are also interested in how HE providers, working with others, can effectively tackle the second.

Dr Omar Khan, Director of TASO, said the report provides a new evidence base for understanding the regional drivers of inequality and social mobility throughout the country.

“The findings of this report highlight that education and employment opportunities must go hand-in-hand if we are serious about levelling-up.

“Improving access to education needs to be coupled with targeted initiatives linked to labour market opportunities and regional strategies for creating more graduate jobs. This will become even more important in the wake of Covid-19, which has already exacerbated existing inequalities.

“TASO will be working with higher education providers to better understand ways to improve employment outcomes for disadvantaged and underrepresented students, regardless of their background, or where they grew up.”

The Social Mobility Commission’s analysis, conducted by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities, is based on the recent linkage of administrative education data and earnings and benefits records in the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset.

The data analysed linked all state-educated boys, born between 1986 and 1988, who attended school in England, to the area where they grew up, tracking their educational and labour market experiences.

The report measures the link between family circumstances at age 16 and later labour market earnings at age 28 for over 800,000 men, across the 320 lower-tier local authorities in England.

The report only measured differences of opportunities for men in England because it was not possible to provide reliable estimates of social mobility for women, as the annual earnings measures in the LEO dataset cannot be adjusted for part-time work and women from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to work part time.

To read more, download the Social Mobility Commission’s report – The long shadow of deprivation.