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Maria Iacovou


Director of Social Science Research Methods Centre

Maria Iacovou is a Reader in Quantitative Sociology

Her first degree was a BSc in Mathematics from Kings College, London in 1985. 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.

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


Journal articles

Borra, C., Iacovou, M. , & Sevilla, A. (2014) 'New evidence on breastfeeding and postpartum depression: the importance of understanding women’s intentions', Maternal and child health journal, 19 (4), 897-907

Kelly, Y., 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' Accepted by British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 120 (11), pp 1340 - 1347

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 First 24th June 2013

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 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) pp35-57

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

Books and book chapters

Iacovou, M. (Forthcoming: 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

Iacovou, M. and Lynn, P. (Forthcoming: 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

Iacovou, M. (Forthcoming: 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

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

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

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

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).

Working papers

Iacovou, M., Kaminska, O. and Levy, H. (2012). 'Using EU-SILC data for cross-national analysis: strengths, problems and recommendations'. ISER working paper 2012-02

Aassve, A., Davia, M., Iacovou, M. and Mencarini, L. (2005). 'Poverty and the Transition to Adulthood: Risky Situations and Risky Events'. ISER working paper 2005-23

Iacovou, M. (2003). 'Work-rich and work-poor couples: polarisation in 14 countries in Europe' EPAG Working Paper 45. Colchester: University of Essex

Iacovou, M. (2001). 'Fertility and female labour supply' ISER Working Paper 2001-19 Colchester: University of Essex

Iacovou, M. (2000) 'Health, wealth and progeny: Explaining the living arrangements of older European women' ISER Working Paper 2000-8. Colchester: University of Essex

Policy Reports

Iacovou, M. and Burton, J. (2013) 'Recording relationships between household members in the context of the EU-SILC'. Invited contribution to the deliberations on the Task Force on the Revision of the EU-SILC Legal Basis, January 2013

Iacovou, M. (2011). 'Leaving Home: Independence, togetherness and income in Europe'. Expert Paper no. 2011/10, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. New York, 2011

Iacovou, M. and Skew, A. (2011). 'More than 10% of households in Romania, Latvia and Bulgaria were three-generation in 2008' Statistics in Focus, Issue no. 52/2011, 27th November 2011, Eurostat.

Pudney, S., Badillo, C., Bryan, M., Burton, J., Conti, G. And Iacovou, M. (2006) 'Sizing the Illicit Drugs Market' in Measuring different aspects of problem drug use: methodological developments (Eds. Nicola Singleton, Rosemary Murray, Louise Tinsley), Home Office Online Report 16/06 Home Office, London

Berthoud, R. and Iacovou, M. (2006). 'The Economic Position of Large Families' Research Report no. 358. Department for Work and Pensions, HMSO, London.

Aassve, A. And Iacovou, M. (2007). 'Youth Poverty in Europe' Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York, UK. ISBN: 978 1 85935 611

Berthoud, R. and Iacovou, M. (2002). 'Diverse Europe: mapping patterns of social change across the EU' Economic and Social Research Council, Swindon

Iacovou, M. and Berthoud, R. (2001). 'Young people's lives: A Map of Europe'. Colchester: University of Essex, Institute for Social and Economic Research

Berthoud, R. and Iacovou, M. (2000). 'Parents and Employment: an analysis of low income families in the British Household Panel Survey' Department of Social Security Research Report no 107, HMSO, London. 2000

  • Position: Reader in Quantitative Sociology
  • E-mail:
  • Tel: 01223 335063
  • Address: Department of Sociology, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ
  • Dr Iacovou supervises graduate students