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The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC)

This classification has been updated please see NS-SEC (Rebased on SOC2010)


Since 2001 the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) has been used for all official statistics and surveys. It replaced Social Class based on Occupation (SC, formerly Registrar General's Social Class) and Socio-economic Groups (SEG).

This change was agreed by the National Statistician following a major review of government social classifications commissioned in 1994 by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (now the Office for National Statistics (ONS)) and carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The NS-SEC is an occupationally based classification but has rules to provide coverage of the whole adult population. The information required to create the NS-SEC is occupation coded to the unit groups (OUG) of the Standard Occupational Classification 2000 (SOC 2000) and details of employment status (whether an employer, self-employed or employee; whether a supervisor, manager etc). Similar information was previously required for SC and SEG.

The version of the classification, which has been used for most analyses (the analytic version), has eight classes, the first of which can be subdivided.

For complete coverage, the three categories Students, Occupations not stated or inadequately described, and Not classifiable for other reasons are added as 'Not classified'.

Researchers in ONS have developed a self-coded version of the NS-SEC which is suitable for use in situations such as postal surveys where the collection and coding of detailed occupation information is not justified.


In the development of this user manual for the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification ONS acknowledges the work undertaken by Professor David Rose and David Pevalin of the Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, on behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council.

The User Manual

The National Statistics Socio-economic Classification: User Manual was first available from these web pages in April 2002. It has now been re-issued in a more user-friendly format. The User Manual gives clear advice on deriving NS-SEC and is available as a publication.

A PDF copy of the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification User Manual is available to download.

Note: New publishing software changed the shading format of some of the cells in the derivation tables in the first NS-SEC User Manual. A small number of anomalies were identified in the original shading. The Occupational Information Unit corrected the affected tables in June 2004.

For enquiries relating to the NS-SEC User Manual, please contact us at

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.