A path model of the lifelong education cycle is developed and estimated, using data relevant to a Swedish cohort of men and the method of linear structural relations analysis. The estimates are used to address the question as to whether adult education, by offsetting differences in educational backgrounds, has reduced the gap in educational attainment between the initially poorly‐educated and well‐educated groups comprising the sample studied. The results show that a cycle of accumulation is in operation, so that the quality of earlier experiences of education predict the quality and amount of educational experiences subsequently gathered. Hence, as the expansion of adult education has served to reinforce inequality of educational attainment, at least for the group of Swedish men studied, the accumulation hypothesis is supported. However, because the stability coefficients found in the model are only of modest size, it is concluded that there is room for interventionist policy designed to influence the social distribution of adult education resources.