the International Review of Social Research, (2015), Vol. 5, No 1, pp. 35-60.
There is a long tradition of studying the influence of parental background on educational attainment of the offspring. Recently the emphasis in this tradition has shifted to the question of what parental background is. In particular, what contributes to social background, for example parental occupational status, parental occupational class, and/or parental education? Moreover, who contributes to parental background, the mother, the father, or both? In this article we asked the question whether these different components of parental background are stable across time and across countries, or are some components more important in some countries or periods than in other countries or periods. We were able to reject the hypothesis that the contributions of the different components were constant across 29 European countries. In most of these countries we were also able to reject that these contributions were constant over time.