Mnemonic: approx_social_grade
Applicability: Person
Type: Derived variable


This socio-economic classification is used by the market research and marketing industries to analyse spending habits and consumer attitudes. It is not possible to assign social grade precisely from Census 2021, although the Market Research Society’s method provides a good approximation.


Total number of categories: 5

Code Name
1 AB Higher and intermediate managerial/administrative/professional occupations
2 C1 Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial/administrative/professional occupations
3 C2 Skilled manual occupations
4 DE Semi-skilled and unskilled manual occupations; unemployed and lowest grade occupations
-8 Does not apply*

*Household Reference Persons aged 15 years and under, and Household Reference Persons aged 65 years and over.

Quality information

As Census 2021 was during a unique period of rapid change, take care when using Labour Market data for planning purposes.

Read more in our Labour market quality information for Census 2021 methodology.


Read about how we developed and tested the questions for Census 2021.

Comparability with the 2011 Census

Broadly comparable

In 2021, an improved methodological approach was used to create this variable. However, as social grade was modelled using different algorithms and variables in 2011 and 2021, it would be misleading to use census outputs to examine trends over this period.

What does broadly comparable mean?

A variable that is broadly comparable means that it can be generally compared with the same variable used in the 2011 Census. However, changes may have been made to the question or options that people could choose from or how write-in answers are classified.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland comparisons

Find out more about variables produced for Census 2021 in Northern Ireland and Census 2022 in Scotland.

Census 2021 data that uses this variable