For decades, reforms aiming at educational expansion attempted to boost economic growth and to reduce inequalities. This study sheds light on the link between institutional settings of the education system and educational inequalities in the course of educational expansion along two axes of inequality: social origin and gender. Looking at the educational attainment of cohorts born between 1925 and 1982 in the European Social Survey data, changing patterns of inequalities are analysed regarding four distinct education systems – England (UK), Finland, Luxembourg, and (Germanspeaking) Switzerland. Employing a comparative perspective, characteristics of the educational system that influence the societal change of educational levels and educational inequalities are considered. Our results show that although the patterns of educational inequalities were comparable in all four countries, Finland seems to have been the most successful in reducing educational inequalities if looking at both inequalities related to social origins and gender at the same time. However, in regard to social inequalities Switzerland also performs well.