A comparison of men in NCDS, BCS70 and the 1946 British birth cohort found those with a degree in the 1946 generation were 30 per cent more likely to go on to a professional or managerial job than those with secondary level qualifications (A-levels or at least 5 O-levels). However, this advantage decreased by a third to 20 per cent for men born in 1970 as those with secondary qualifications became increasingly likely to work in professional or managerial roles due to the growing availability of these jobs.
In addition, research based on the 1946 British birth cohort found that those who had obtained a university degree or equivalent by age 26 were more likely to have better cognitive function at age 53 than their peers with lower qualifications. They were also nearly 4 times more likely to engage in continuing education in their 30s and 40s than those who had not received any qualifications in early adulthood.
A study of data from NCDS and BCS70 has linked higher education to a range of other outcomes, including health behaviours. The researchers found that found that graduates were less likely to smoke, be obese, or show signs of depression than their peers. Significantly, in the 1958 cohort, those who started but didn’t complete a higher education course showed a downturn in indicators of good health compared to those who went on to gain a degree. The study also found that graduates were consistently less likely to be unemployed than non-graduates between the ages of 25 and 30.
However, findings from the 1946 British birth cohort demonstrate that the relationship between higher education and healthy behaviours is not clear cut. In the 1946 cohort, those with good educational attainment also had the healthiest diets, however some highly-educated women also drank more heavily than their peers. Another study of the 1946 cohort found women who had achieved a high level of educational attainment by age 26 also reported more symptoms of anxiety and depression at age 53 than their less qualified peers.