Cultural and human capital, information and higher education choices

Peter Davies*, Tian Qiu, Neil M. Davies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines ways in which economic and sociological explanations of higher education (HE) choices may intersect through student's use of information. We find substantial positive associations between intention to go to university in England and each of: (i) parents' education; (ii) cultural capital; and (iii) expectations of the size of the graduate premium. We also find an association between beliefs about the size of the graduate premium and cultural capital. These results support an integrated model of participation in HE in which social and economic factors are treated as complementary rather than competing explanations. The results run counter to previous research which has found that associations between participation in HE and socio-economic status (SES) largely disappear once students' attainment is taken into account. One policy implication of this research is that some indicators of SES (notably household income, eligibility for free school meals or parental occupation) are sub-optimal for interventions to widen participation in HE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-825
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • economics
  • sociology


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