Social Grade is the ‘common currency’ social classification (the ‘ABC1’ system) used by the advertising industry and employed throughout marketing, advertising and market research.

The classification assigns every household to a grade, usually based upon the occupation and employment status of the Chief Income Earner, but in some cases using other characteristics. For this reason alone, Social Grade is incompatible with government social classifications and can only be properly determined by trained market research interviewers backed up by expert coders.

The ONS has produced census output on Approximated Social Grade, by applying an algorithm developed by members of the MRS Census & Geodemographics Group. The algorithm uses demographics captured by the Census to assign a likely grade to each individual.

For background on the initial Social Grade algorithm for the 2001 Census and where to find results, click here.

For information about Approximated Social Grade on the 2011 Census, click here.

Development report

A report is available on the development of the 2011 Social Grade algorithm – this document explains the approach taken and accuracy achieved, and evaluates the discriminatory power of the approximation in comparison with ‘true’ Social Grade.

The report also includes the exact algorithm applied on the 2011 Census, as a series of syntax rules. This enables users to apply the algorithm to other datasets containing the same variables – however the algorithm’s developers take no responsibility for any results that users produce.

To download this report on the development of the algorithm, including its detailed specification, please click here.

Evaluation at region level

The JICPOPS Technical Committee has evaluated Approximate Social Grade at region level in comparison with the National Readership Survey (NRS). To download the evaluation document, please click here

Research practitioners use this handy guide to determine the social grade of research respondents. More details can be found on the NRS Page on social grade here. It covers most job titles you’re ever likely to come across. The dictionary is available both in print and as a PDF.

Occupational groupings

Powerful reference for researchers

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