Graduates' children 'earn more'
Men whose parents are university-educated are likely to earn more than those whose mothers and fathers do not hold a degree, according to a study.
It reveals that having a parent who went to university makes a difference to a man's earnings, even when his own qualifications are taken into account.
Researchers suggested children who come from more advantaged backgrounds are more likely to go to a top university, which could be part of the reason that they end up earning more.
The study, by the Institute of Education, analysed data on around 40,000 men aged 25 to 49, collected through the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).
It found that in the UK, men who were born to low educated parents - leaving education before going to university - earn around 20% less on average than those whose mothers and fathers are graduates - even when they hold they themselves hold the same qualifications.
A secondary analysis found a similar situation for women, revealing that women in England and Northern Ireland who are the daughters of early school leavers earn around 11% less than those born to highly-educated parents, even if they have the same qualifications.
The researchers concluded that parents' level of education has a particularly strong effect on men's incomes in the UK, and some other countries.
In England, Northern Ireland, France, Japan and South Korea the direct effect of parental education is "substantial", they found.
Lead researcher Dr John Jerrim said: " The UK may offer particularly high economic rewards for going to a 'good' university, whereas, in other countries, 'a degree is a degree'.
"As children from advantaged backgrounds tend to go to more highly-ranked universities in this country, this could help to explain our results.
"It is also reasonable to assume that the sons and daughters of families with greater financial resources may be given more time to find a suitable job than those from less advantaged backgrounds. However, most of the men and women in this study began work before unpaid internships became commonplace. It will therefore be interesting to see whether they skew incomes even further in favour of those with graduate parents."
The study shows that in the UK, without taking into account a child's own qualifications, the wage gap between those with parents who are highly-educated and those who are low-educated is around 50%.
In comparison, in Norway and Sweden, individuals born to mothers and fathers who have degrees earn around 15% more than those whose parents left education earlier.
It also found that in England and Northern Ireland, individuals from more privileged backgrounds are around eight times more likely to have a degree than those from less privileged homes, whereas in Sweden, men and women who have at least one university-educated patents are around four times more likely to be a graduate.
The findings come the day after a study published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) revealed that u niversity graduates who attended private school earn thousands of pounds more on average than those who were state-educated.
The analysis found that of those who were in work three and a half years after graduating, those who had been privately educated were earning around 17% more on average than those who went to state school - equivalent to around £4,200 per year.
It suggests that part of this wage gap is because private school pupils tend to go to more prestigious universities, and study subjects that are linked to higher earnings.
Once these differences are accounted for, university graduates who went to a fee-paying school still earn around 7% more on average than their state-educated peers.