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Sociology Research


Maria Iacovou's first degree was a BSc in Mathematics from Kings College, London. Following this, she spent several years working as an international tax analyst and a secondary school maths teacher, studying part-time to obtain BSc and MSc degrees in Economics. She was awarded a PhD in Economics from London University in 2002 for her thesis "Education, the labour market and the family"

Between 1997 and 2013, Maria worked at the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), an interdisciplinary research institute based at the University of Essex. She has collaborated with colleagues in fields including epidemiology, economics, statistics, demography, social policy and sociology, and her publications reflect this interdisciplinary approach.

Between 2015 and 2019, she was Director of the Social Sciences Research Methods Programme (SSRMP), which provides training in research methods to postgraduate students and staff across Cambridge University.

Research Interests

Maria's research interests centre on family relationships. She is interested in people's living arrangements, the reasons why people choose different living arrangements, and how and why household structures differ across countries. She has published several articles on the transition to adulthood, particularly the home-leaving process; and on other aspects of family formation, including how people decide whether and when to have children, and the processes by which these intentions are (or are not) realized. She is interested in the quality of intra-household relationships (primarily the relationships between partners, and the relationships between parents and children), in the determinants of the quality of these relationships, and in the outcomes arising from poor relationships.

Maria is also interested in parenting and child development, particularly in the effects of infant feeding patterns; she has studied the effects of breastfeeding on babies and their mothers, and has undertaken groundbreaking research on the effects of infant feeding schedules on children's later cognitive development.



SSRMP: Foundations in Applied Statistics  (on leave 2018-19)

SSRMP: Basic Quantitative Analysis (on leave 2018-19)

Graduate supervision availability and interests:

Maria is available to supervise PhD students with strong quantitative component to their proposal, in areas relating to family demography or labour economics.

Current Doctoral students:

Katarzyna Doniec

Lijia Guo

Hei-Wan Mak

Margaret Ontita

Key Publications - Books

Berthoud, R. and Iacovou, M. (2004). Social Europe: Living Standards and Welfare States. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Key Publications - Book Chapters

Iacovou, M. (2016) “Young people’s experiences of employment and unemployment across Europe: Evidence from the EU-SILC”. In Bynner, J. and Schoon, I. “Young People and the Great Recession: Work, Family, Health and Social Attitudes”. Cambridge University Press, 2017 (in press)

Iacovou, M. and Lynn, P. (2016) “Design and implementation issues to improve the research value of the longitudinal component of EU-SILC”. In Atkinson, A.B., Marlier, E. and Guio, A-C (eds) “Monitoring Social Europe”. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2017 (in press)

Iacovou, M. (2016) “Household composition, poverty and Hardship across Europe”. In Atkinson, A.B., Marlier, E. and Guio, A-C (eds) “Monitoring Social Europe”. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2017 (in press)

Iacovou, M. (2016) “Household structure and AROPE”. In Atkinson, A.B., Marlier, E. and Guio, A-C (eds) “Monitoring Social Europe”. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2017 (in press)

Iacovou, M. “Does your mother know? Staying out late and risky behaviours among 10-15 year-olds” (2012) in Understanding Society: Findings 2012, ed. Mcfall, S. ISBN 978 1 85871 163 8

Ermisch, J., Iacovou, M. and Skew, A. (2011). “Family Relationships”, in Early Findings from the First Wave of the UK's Household Longitudinal Study ed. McFall, S. ISBN 978 1 85871 158 4

Iacovou, M. and Skew, A. (2010) “Household Structure in the EU” in Atkinson, A.B. and Marlier, E. (eds) “Income and living conditions in Europe”. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. doi: 10.2785/53320.

Iacovou, M. and Parisi, L. (2009). “Leaving Home” in Changing Relationships, eds. Ermisch, J. and Brynin, M., Routledge: New York, London.

Iacovou, M. (2004). “Patterns of family living” in Social Europe: Living Standards and Welfare States, eds. Iacovou, M. and Berthoud, R., Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Iacovou, M., Spiess, C.K. and Uunk, W. (2004) “Family effects on the extent of employment and employment changes” in Social Europe: Living Standards and Welfare States, eds. Iacovou, M. and Berthoud, R. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing (2004).

Key Publications - Journal Articles

Maria Iacovou, Maria A.Davia (2019) Who supports whom? Do adult children living at home share their incomes with their parents? Advances in Life Course Research Volume 40, June 2019, Pages 14-29

Hei Wan Mak & Maria Iacovou (2018) Dimensions of the Parent–Child Relationship: Effects on Substance Use in Adolescence and Adulthood. Substance Use & Misuse Volume 54, 2019 - Issue 5 Pages 724-736

Auspurg, K., Iacovou, M. and Nicoletti, C. (2017). Housework Share Between Partners: Experimental Evidence on Gender-Specific Preferences. Social Science Research.

Borra, C. Iacovou, M. and Sevilla, A. (2015) “New Evidence on Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: The Importance of Understanding Women’s Intentions” Maternal and Child Health Journal, 1-11. 

Iacovou, M., Quigley, M., Gray, R., Wolke, D., Kelly, J., Sacker, A. (2013) "Light drinking versus abstinence in pregnancy - behavioural and cognitive outcomes in 7 year old children: a longitudinal cohort study" British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 

Sacker, A., Kelly, Y., Iacovou, M., Cable, N., Bartley, M. (2013) "Breastfeeding and intergenerational social mobility, what are the mechanisms? A propensity score matching analysis of two population based cohort studies" Archives of Disease in Childhood published Online. 

Iacovou, M. and Sevilla-Sanz, A (2013). "Infant feeding: the effects of scheduled vs. on-demand feeding on mothers' wellbeing and children's cognitive development" European Journal of Public Health (2013) 23(1) pp 13-19 

Borra, C., Iacovou, M. and Sevilla-Sanz, A. (2012). "The Effect of Breastfeeding on Children's Cognitive and Non-cognitive Abilities" Labour Economics 19(4) 

Figari, F., Iacovou, M., Skew, A. and Sutherland, H. (2012) "Approximations to the truth: comparing survey and microsimulation approaches to measuring income for social indicators" Social Indicators Research 105(3) pp387-407 

Iacovou, M. and Skew, A. J. (2011) "Household composition across the new Europe: where do the new Member States fit in?" Demographic research Vol 25, Article 14, pp 465-490 

Iacovou, M. and Tavares, L. (2011). "Yearning, Learning and Conceding: Reasons men and women change their childbearing intentions" Population and Development Review 37(1) pp89-123 

Iacovou, M. (2010). "Leaving home: independence, togetherness and income". Advances in Life Course Research 15(4) pp147-160 

Iacovou, M. (2009)."Cross-national comparative research with longitudinal data: research into youth poverty" 21st Century Society 4(2) pp149-160 

Iacovou, M. (2008). "Family Size, Birth Order and Educational Attainment" Marriage and Family Review 42(3) pp35-5

Aassve, A., Davia, M., Iacovou, M. and Mazzucco, S. (2007). “Does leaving home make you poor? Evidence from 13 European countries” European Journal of Population 23(3-4) pp315-338.

Aassve, A., Iacovou, M. and Mencarini, L. (2006). “Youth poverty and transition to adulthood in Europe”. Demographic Research 15, article 2, pp21-50.

Berthoud, R. And Iacovou, M. (2003) “Employment and poverty among young people: a European perspective” Representing Children 15(4), pp258-270.

Iacovou, M. (2002). “Regional variations in the transition to adulthood” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 580 pp40-69

Iacovou, M. (2002). “Sharing and caring: older Europeans’ living arrangements” Journal of Applied Social Science Studies 122 pp111-142.

Iacovou, M. (2002). “Class size in the early years: is smaller really better?” Education Economics 10(3) pp261-287.

Job Title:
Professor in Quantitative Sociology, Fellow of Fitzwilliam College
Dr Maria Iacovou
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