Does stuttering impact educational and employment outcomes in the UK? Findings from surveys completed by a birth cohort study

“These findings fail to support the belief that stuttering has a negative impact on education and employment.” – McAllister, Collier & Shepstone, 2017


This study utilised survey data from the large longitudinal UK based National Child Development Study. Surveys were completed at various time points from birth to 50 years of age.

Data were compared between two groups: those whose parents indicated that they stuttered at 16 years of age, and those whose parents indicated that they did not stutter nor experience any other speech difficulties at 16 years.


Overall, results showed that stuttering in adolescence was not associated with poorer educational or employment outcomes later in life.


Here is a more detailed summary of the results:

  • Those whose parents reported that they stuttered at 16 were more likely to be male, have poorer cognitive and reading test scores, and be bullied. Several other factors also appeared to be associated with stuttering, these included family social class at birth, mother and father school leaving age, living in rented accommodation, parental report of financial hardship, behavioural assessment score, and family income. However, when sex, cognitive/reading test scores and bullying were taken into account, none of these other factors were significantly associated with stuttering.
  • There was no evidence to suggest that individuals who stuttered at 16 were more likely to leave school at the earliest possible opportunity, nor have poorer educational qualifications by the age of 50, regardless of other associated demographic factors (outlined above).
  • Further, stuttering was not a significant predictor of earning lower than average pay, or unemployment for one or more months between leaving school and the age of 23.
  • The study did find evidence that stuttering was linked to socioeconomic status of occupation at 50, that is, those who stuttered at 16 were reported to have lower-status jobs.


Interesting, results from this study contrast a more recent USA based study (Gerlach et al, 2018). Both studies should be examined together for a more holistic view of what is happening in this population internationally.



McAllister, J., Collier, J. & Shepstone, L. (2012). The impact of adolescent stuttering on educational and employment outcomes: evidence from a birth cohort study. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 37(2), 106-121. doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2012.01.002


Referenced study:

Gerlach, H., Totty, E., Subramanian, A. & Zebrowski, P. (2018). Stuttering and the labor market outcomes in the United States. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 61, 1649-1663. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0353

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