Colin Mills

Position: Associate Professor,  Department of Sociology, University of Oxford. Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College.

Research Interests: Social Inequality,  Social Mobility, Social Demography.

Contact Details

Selected Publications
Work in Progress
Advice on writing an MSc thesis
Doctoral Students
Want to write a doctoral dissertation with me?

Recent Publications

Ursula Henz and Colin Mills (2017) Social class origin and assortative mating in Britain, 1949-2010 forthcoming in Sociology

Colin Mills (2015) 'The Great British Class Survey: Requiescat in pace' Sociological Review, 63, 2, 393-399.

Ursula Henz and Colin Mills (2014) 'Work-Life Conflict in Britain: Job Demands and Resources', European Sociological Review, , 31, 1, 1-13.

Colin Mills (2014)  'Do adult obesity rates in England really vary by insecurity as well as by inequality?' BMJ Open letter.

Colin Mills (2014) 'Mapping Social Class in Britain', Sociology Review, 24, 2, 20-23

Colin Mills (2014) 'The Great British Class Fiasco: A Comment on Savage et al.', Sociology, 48, 3, 437-44.

John Hills, Mike Brewer, Stephen Jenkins, Ruth Lister, Ruth Lupton, Stephen Machin, Colin Mills, Tariq Modood, Teresa Ress and Sheila Riddell (2011) An anatomy of economic inequality in the UK: Report of the National Equality Panel.

John H. Goldthorpe and Colin Mills  (2008) 'Trends in Intergenerational Class Mobility in Modern Britain: Evidence from national Surveys, 1972-2005', National Institute Economic Review, 5, July,  83-100.

Patrick McGovern, Stephen Hill, Colin Mills and Michael White (2007) Market, Class and Employment, Oxford University Press.

Colin Mills (2006) Mobility in John Scott (ed.)  Sociology: The Key Concepts, Routledge.

Michelle Jackson, John H. Goldthorpe and Colin Mills (2005), ‘Education, Employers and Class. Mobility’, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 23: 1-30.

Michael White, Stephen Hill, Colin Mills and Deborah Smeaton (2004) Managing to Change?: British Workplaces and the Future of Work, Palgrave.

John  H. Goldthorpe and Colin Mills (2004) Trends in Intergenerational Class Mobility in Britain in the Late Twentieth Century, pp 195-224 in  Richard Breen (ed.) Social Mobility in Europe, Oxford University Press.

Colin Mills. and Evans Geoffrey Evans. (2003) Employment Relations, Employment Conditions and the NS-SEC, in David Rose and David Pevalin (eds.) A Researcher's Guide to the National Statistics Socio-Economic Classification,  Sage.

Michael White, Stephen, Hill, Patrick McGovern, Colin Mills,  and Deborah Smeaton (2003) '"High Performance" Management Practices, Working Hours and Work-Life Balance',
British Journal of Industrial Relations, 41,2, June, 175-195.

Jan O. Jonsson and Colin Mills (eds.) (2001) Cradle to Grave: Life-Course Change in Modern Sweden, Sociology Press.

Work in Progress

2009    Ursula Henz and Colin Mills, Trends in Conjugal Homogamy in Britain 1945-2005, Presentation at the 2009 BSPS Conference,  University of Sussex

2013    The Great Class Fiasco: A Comment on Savage et al.

2013    The Great Class Fiasco: A Comment on Savage et al. (short version). Forthcoming in Sociology.

2014   Two Cheers for Social Mobility: comments on Bukodi and Sturgis.

2014    What do we really know about social mobility (in the UK)?

2017  Jouni Kuha and Colin Mills, On Group Comparisons with Logistic Regression Models




MT 2015-16 Sociology of Post Industrial Societies

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4

Lecture 5

Lecture 6

Lecture 7

Lecture 8


MSc/MPhil Sociology  

Research Design HT 2017

Reading List

Seminar Schedule

Lecture 1

Lecture 1 Figure

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4

Lecture 5

Lecture 6

Lecture 7

Lecture 8

Mid-term formative assessment

Instructions for the critical essay

Critical Essay 2017

Social Stratification HT 2016

Reading List

Useful Stuff

From time to time I'll post things you might find useful. No guarantees, use at your own risk.

Here is a STATA do file to esimate the parameters and standard errors of  the models that Powers & Xie (2008) discuss in  Ch 2  - log-rate models estimated by OLS, FGLS and ML. You'll need the data too.

Here is a STATA do file to simulate a simple "regression to the mean"  process. This is the sort of thing that Feinstein,  Jerrim and Vignoles and others are arguing about here, here and here.

Here is a STATA do file to illustrate 3 ways to do linear regression. The first works through the linear algebra in terms of  matrices, the second uses the canned STATA command (which every sensible person will in practice  use), the third  does it by maximum likelihood. This is the data you need for the example.

Here is a STATA do file to illustrate instrumental variables estimation.

Here is a STATA do file to illustrate the computations involved in a simple correspondence analysis. You'll need the data too.

Here is a STATA do file to estimate  the heteroscedastic normal pdf model.

Successful Doctoral Students

London School of Economics and Political Science

Jameela Mirza Al-Mahari (2001) 'Movement between employment and self-employment: a study based on the UK Labour Force Survey'

Mafalda Reis Janela Cardim (2005) 'Help or hindrance? The role of social networks in the start-up and development of low technology and low credit small businesses in Portugal'.

University of Oxford

Neli Demireva (2009) 'Ethnic penalties, job search and the British labour market'

Silvano Guzzo (2010) 'Downward mobility and unequal returns to education in Britain'

Timothy  Phakathi (2011) 'Workplace Transformation and the Working Lives of Mineworkers in the Post-Apartheid South African Gold Mining Industry'

Mark Williams (2011) 'The Changing Structure of Earnings in Great Britain, 1970s-2000s'

Min Zou (2011) 'Work Orientations and Individual Labour Market Participation, 1991-2003'

Andrea Canales (2013)  (joint with Vikki Boliver) 'Degree Attainment in British Universities: The Individual and Compositional Mechanisms that Explain Students' Chances of Completing a Degree'

Suyu Liu (2013)  (joint with Rachel Murphy) 'Hidden inequalities in Chinese higher education'

Kolbeinn StefŠnsson (2014) ' Economic inequality and social class'

Gwendolin Blossfeld (2015) 'Balancing Education, Family, and Work Commitments in Germany: Changes over the Life Course and Across Cohorts'

Current Doctoral Students

Pia Blossfeld

Felix Busch

Megan Scott

Funding for graduate study in sociology at the University of Oxford.

Want to write a doctoral dissertation with me? Please read this carefully before you get in touch with me.

I'm interested in supervising talented doctoral candidates who want to do serious quantitative work in the following areas: social stratification; social mobility; assortative mating; the measurement of social class;  some aspects social demography – for example the connection between family background and life-course outcomes; social inequality and partnership formation/fertility; sociology of employment.

 Serious means an intention to do something a bit more than run a few crosstabs and stick on the end a logit with 25 predictor variables (unless you have a very good reason for doing that). It also means having a substantive point. I have no interest in quantitative pyrotechnics for their own sake. I'm not a methodologist and don't do methodological research. Nothing against methodologists but it is just not what I do and you won't get good value from me as a supervisor if your interests are purely in the development of technique.

 Likewise you won't get good value from me if what you want to do is 'qualitative'. Again this is not a judgement about scientific value but a statement of where my interests lie. I don't want to waste my time (or your time) on things I have no interest in so if your project is ‘qualitative’ you would be better off with somebody else.

My empirical interests are largely UK centred and I hold the somewhat peculiar belief that sociology is about processes that are in part specific to a time and a place and that it is important to know quite a lot about that time and that place. I can be persuaded to supervise theses about other societies - especially ones where I have some - albeit tenuous - grasp of the language and some knowledge of the institutions - which means in essence the Anglo world plus Germany, France and Sweden. I'm not keen on supervising theses on societies where I have no access to primary materials in the original language and I have to rely on what you tell me.

 If I supervise you I will push you very hard, ask you difficult questions and not let you get away with sloppy or wishful thinking. I will also insist that you take intellectual ownership of and responsibility for your project. I will insist that you are really doing something that has genuine sociological content (and that you know some sociology). If you just want to do another of the social sciences under the label of sociology, then we won’t get along. My style of supervision does not suit everyone and you would be ill advised to seek it unless you can deal with firm (but fair) criticism and an insistence that technically you really know what you are doing (I’m not a just push the buttons on STATA person).

 People who stay the course with me tend to be very competitive in the academic job market. My students have gone on to take faculty positions and postdocs at: Essex, Surrey, Reading, LSE, University of Bahrain, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Otto-Friederich University Bamberg, Universitšt Leipzig.

If you have read all this, are not put off, and have an original idea for an exciting thesis please get in touch ( It's best if you send me an outline (maximum of 5 A4 pages) before you formally apply so that I can give you an indication as to whether I would be willing to supervise you. Please don't send me BA/BSc, MA/MSc theses and other long documents. I don't have time to read them. If you can't catch my attention in 5 pages then you can't catch it at all.

Last updated: 17 January 2013