This paper examines the relationship between processes of demographic class formation,
gender inequality and age stratification in England and Wales between 1971 and 1991.
Existing research shows that the complex process of class restructuring which took
place in these years is linked to considerable changes in the position of women,
especially related to their growing numbers in professional and managerial occupations.
We seek to show that changing processes of age stratification were also related to
the remaking of class and gender relations in these years. Data from the Longitudinal
Study (approximately 193,000 men and 203,000 women aged 2357 in two age cohorts;
1971 and 1981), Samples of Anonymised Records (approximately 121,500 men and 126,000
women aged 2357 in 1991), General Household Survey 19831992 (32,609 men and 16,191
women aged 2357 in fulltime employment) and from the National Child Development Study,
1981 and 1991 (2205 men and 887 women aged 23 and 33, in fulltime employment) were
used to examine the movement of individuals through changing opportunity structures
over the twenty-year period. We found a distinct hardening of the relationship between
age and class in these two decades for men, with a marked increase in social polarisation
between young men and older men, but for women this relationship was very different,
with young women seeing considerable evidence of an improvement in their fortunes.