How do parents’ educational fields affect the choice of educational field?

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British Journal of Sociology;Volume 70, Issue 2 - March 2019



Document type


This study examines the links between parental education and students’ choice of field of study in Norwegian higher education. In our interpretation of the results, we suggest a status group perspective that integrates risk aversion models, micro-class theory, and cultural reproduction schemes. Complete Norwegian register data for all individuals born from 1955 to 1980 allow for a fine-grained examination of diverse fields of study not attempted in earlier studies. The findings reveal that intergenerational reproduction of educational fields is widespread, but its extent varies across fields of study. The tendency is most pronounced among children of professional, educated parents with masters and higher-level degrees. Moreover, the analysis shows that students who do not choose the same field as their parents none the less tend to choose educational fields close to those of their parents.




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