Professor Elizabeth (Liz) Washbrook

Professor of Quantitative Social Science


  • Longitudinal data analysis
  • Child development
  • Life course processes
  • Educational inequality
  • Cross-national comparisons


I am a Professor of Quantitative Social Science at the School of Education, University of Bristol, UK. For the academic year 2018/19 I am on sabbatical as the holder of a 12-month University Research Fellowship and I am currently a co-investigator on two ESRC grants.

I am a member of the Centre for Multilevel Modelling, University of Bristol; a member of the Human Capital & Economic Opportunity Global Working Group; and an affiliate of the Center on Poverty & Social Policy at Columbia University. Previously, I have been a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, New York, an associate of the Columbia Population Research Center, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Columbia University School of Social Work. I have also been a visiting fellow at the VU University Amsterdam, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Queensland.

My research has been funded by (among others) the ESRC, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the US Social Science Research Council, the Russell Sage Foundation, the Australian Research Council, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. I have published in various international journals, including: Child Development; Demography; Economic Journal; Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry; Journal of the American Statistical Association; and Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. In 2015, I was the co-author of the book Too Many Children Left Behind: The US Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective.

I was the author of a highly-rated REF2014 Impact Case Study, describing the policy impact of my research on socioeconomic inequality in preschool outcomes in the UK.

Research interests

My research draws on the statistical analysis of large and complex datasets to explore a variety of topics relating to family decision-making and trajectories of children’s development over the life course. I work extensively with longitudinal cohort study data to explore issues such as the long-term consequences of early socio-emotional problems; educational inequalities by social class, race/ethnic group and gender; and the links between parental behaviours and early child development.

A key strand of my research is methodological and focuses on developing and applying new statistical methods to large-scale longitudinal datasets. I have worked on methods for household panel data concerned with missing data and the modelling of unobserved heterogeneity at the household and neighbourhood levels. My work with the child cohort studies investigates methodological topics such as the modelling of developmental trajectories in the presence of measurement error and the harmonisation of datasets across countries. My current sabbatical project will explore the potential for applying machine learning methods to the study of the consequences of adolescent mental health problems.

My approach is explicitly interdisciplinary and international in scope. I aim to draw together insights from education, population health, demography, psychology, economics and other social sciences in order to better understand the social processes of human development. I am also motivated by the need to make fundamental principles and findings from complex quantitative analyses accessible to non-experts, and work to engage a range of non-academic stakeholders from policymakers to undergraduate students who are new to statistics. 

Research grants

Current grants:

Past grants:


At undergraduate level, I am a Unit Tutor on Research Methods & Statistics in Psychology in Education Part 2, teaching half the unit. I am also personal tutor to five undergraduate students.

At masters level, until 2017 I was the Unit Director and developer of the course materials on Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods in the Social Sciences/Statistics in Education and Advanced Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences/Multivariate Statistical Methods in Education. I also teach as a Unit Tutor on two broad-based research methods courses that cover both qualitative and quantitative methods: Introduction to Educational Inquiry and Philosophy & Research Design in the Social Sciences. I am a personal tutor to 18 masters students, and supervise masters dissertations.

At doctoral level, I supervise five PhD students on a wide range of quantitative and mixed methods projects. I also teach half of the Doctorate in Education (EdD) unit Evaluating Educational Quality and Improvement in Organisational Settings, and supervise two EdD Hong Kong students and one EdD Bristol student.

In 2012 and 2013 I co-developed and co-taught an advanced two-day short course on Discrete-Time Event History Analysis. As PI on a recent BA grant I have been developing software to help tutors generate interactive materials for the teaching of undergraduate statistics.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and have been the School of Education Undergraduate External Relations Officer since 2017. In this latter role I have participated in an official university delegation to China, taken responsibility for developing a BSc with Year Abroad programme offer, and co-ordinated activities to promote the diversity of our student intake.

Professional activities

I am a member of the Sutton Trust Research Review Group, and peer reviewer of grant applications for the ESRC, the Nuffield Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Leverhulme Trust. I have worked or advised on projects for a range of governmental and non-governmental organisations, including the UK Government Cabinet Office, the UK Children’s Commissioner, the US National Academy of Education, Save the Children, the Sutton Trust, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Resolution Foundation, and the Inter-American Development Bank. I was a member of the University of Bristol Population Health Steering Committee from 2009 to 2017, and an adviser to the Scientific Steering Committee of the 2012 Birth Cohort.

I served as co-chair of the Education Panel for the APPAM International Conference in London in 2016, and co-organizer of a CIFAR-funded workshop to found a network of scholars from eleven countries working on cross-national comparisons of socio-economic inequalities in child development in 2017.

I am a peer reviewer for a wide variety of journals, including: Advances in Life Course Research, AERA Open, American Sociological Review, Child Development, Demography, Developmental Psychology, Economic Journal, International Journal of Research Methods in Education, Journal of Economic Geography, Journal of Economic Inequality, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Population Economics, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Journal of Social Policy, Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, Population, Place and Space, Review of Income and Wealth, Social Science and Medicine.

Books and journal articles

  1. Lopez-Lopez, J. A., Kwong, A. S. F., Washbrook, E. V., Tilling, K. M., Fazel, M. & Pearson, R. M. (2021), Depressive symptoms and academic achievement in UK adolescents: a cross-lagged analysis with genetic covariates. Journal of Affective Disorders. 284, p. 104-113 10 p.
  2. Bradbury, B., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2019). Income-related gaps in early child cognitive development: Why are they larger in the US compared to the UK, Australia and Canada? Demography. Demography. 56, 1, p. 367-390 24 p.
  3. Moullin, S., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2017). Parent–child attachment as a mechanism of intergenerational (dis)advantage. Families, Relationships and Societies. Published online 6 October 2017.
  4. Steele, F., Washbrook, E., Charlton, C. & Browne, W. (2016). A longitudinal mixed logit model for estimation of push and pull effects in residential location choice Journal of the American Statistical Association, 111(515): 1061-1074.
  5. Bradbury, B., Corak, M., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2015). Too Many Children Left Behind: The US Achievement Gap in Comparative Perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.  224 pages. (Nominated for the 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Education)
  6. Sayal, K., Washbrook, E. & Propper, C. (2015). Childhood behavior problems and academic outcomes in adolescence: Longitudinal population-based study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 54(5): 360-368.
  7. Washbrook, E. & Lee, R. (2015). Beyond the Feinstein chart: Investigating differential achievement trajectories in a US cohort, in Feinstein, L., Jerrim, J. & Vignoles, A., Goldstein, H. & French, R., Washbrook, E. & Lee, R. & Lupton, R. Social class differences in early cognitive development debate. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 6, 332-377.
  8. Kulu, H. & Washbrook, E. (2014). Residential context, migration and fertility in a modern urban society. Advances in Life Course Research, 21: 168-182.
  9. Washbrook, E., Clarke, P. & Steele, F. (2014). Investigating non-ignorable drop-out in panel studies of residential mobility. Journal of Royal Statistical Society: Series C (Applied Statistics). 63(2): 239-266.
  10. Washbrook, E., Gregg, P. & Propper, C. (2014). A decomposition analysis of the relationship between family income and multiple child outcomes. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 177(4): 757-782.
  11. Steele, F., Clarke, P. & Washbrook, E. (2013) Modeling household decisions using longitudinal data from household panel surveys, with applications to residential mobility. Sociological Methodology. 43(1): 220-271.
  12. Washbrook, E., Propper, C. & Sayal, K. (2013). Pre-school hyperactivity/attention problems and educational outcomes in adolescence: Prospective longitudinal study. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 203(4): 265-271.
  13. Ermisch, J. & Washbrook, E. (2012). Residential Mobility: Wealth, Demographic and Housing Market Effects. Scottish Journal of Political Economy. 59: 483-499.
  14. Howard-Jones, P., Washbrook, E. & Meadows, S. (2012). The timing of educational investment: A neuroscientific perspective. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. 2(1): S18-S29.
  15. Washbrook, E., Waldfogel, J., Corak, M., Bradbury, B. & Ghanghro, A. (2012). The Development of Young Children of Immigrants in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Child Development. 83(5):1591-1607.
  16. Goodman, A., Gregg, P. & Washbrook, E. (2011). Children’s educational attainment and the aspirations, attitudes and behaviours of parents and children through childhood. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 2(1), 1-18.
  17. Gregg, P. & Washbrook, E. (2011). The socio-economic gradient in child outcomes: the role of attitudes, behaviours and beliefs. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 2(1), 41-58.
  18. Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2011). Early Years Policy. Child Development Research, Vol. 2011, Article ID 343016: 1-12.
  19. Washbrook, E., Waldfogel, J., Ruhm, C.J. & Han, W. (2011). Public Policies, Women’s Employment after Childbearing, and Child Well-Being. The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 11(1), Article 43: 1-48.
  20. Burgess, S., Gregg, P, Propper, C. & Washbrook, E. (2008). Maternity Rights and Mother's Return to Work. Labour Economics 15(2): 168-201.
  21. Han, W., Ruhm, C.J., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2008). The Timing of Mothers’ Employment after Childbirth.  Monthly Labor Review 131(6): 15-27. (Selected as Best Monthly Labor Review article of 2008 by external contributors.)
  22. Gregg, P., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2006). Family Expenditures Post-Welfare Reform in the UK: Are Low-Income Families Starting to Catch Up? Labour Economics, 13(6), 721-746.
  23. Gregg, P., Washbrook, E., Propper, C. & Burgess, S. (2005). The Effects of Early Maternal Employment on Child Development in the UK. Economic Journal, 115, F48-80.

Other publications

  1. Tikly, L., Washbrook, E., Doyle, H. & Stockfelt, S. (2017). The success of UK domiciled students from Black and Minority Ethnic and White Working-Class backgrounds at the University of Bristol. Widening Participation Research Fund Final Report. University of Bristol.
  2. Tikly, L., Rose, J. & Washbrook, E. (2016). The High-Potential Learners Project: Increasing the participation in Russell Group universities of high potential learners from low-performing institutions. Widening Participation Research Fund Final Report. University of Bristol.
  3. Moss, G. & Washbrook, E. (2016). Understanding the gender gap in language and literacy development. Bristol Working Papers in Education, #01/2016.
  4. Moullin, S., Washbrook, E. & Waldfogel, J. (2014). Baby bonds: Parenting, attachment and a secure base for children. Report for the Sutton Trust. Sutton Trust, London.
  5. Bradbury, B., Corak, M., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2012). Inequality in Early Child Outcomes. In J. Ermisch, M. Jäntti, & T. Smeeding (eds) From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  6. Magnuson, K., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2012). SES Gradients in Skills during the School Years. In J. Ermisch, M. Jäntti, & T. Smeeding (eds) From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  7. Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2011). Income-Related Gaps in School Readiness in the US and UK. In T. Smeeding, R. Erikson and M. Jantti, Persistence, Privilege, and Parenting: The Comparative Study of Intergenerational Mobility,New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
  8. Howard-Jones, P. & Washbrook, E. (2011). Educational investment: Interrelating neuroscientific, educational and economic perspectives. Policy Report 11/02 for the Centre for Understanding Behaviour Change (CUBeC). Funded by the Department for Education.
  9. Washbrook, E.  & Waldfogel, J. (2011). On your marks: Measuring the school readiness of children in low-to-middle income families. Resolution Foundation Briefing. Resolution Foundation, London.  
  10. Washbrook, E. (2010). Early Environments and Child Outcomes: An Analysis Commission for the Frank Field MP Independent Review on Poverty and Life Chances. Cabinet Office.
  11. Gregg. P & Goodman, A. eds (2010). Poorer children’s educational attainment: how important are attitudes and behaviour? Report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (contributor)
  12. Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2010). Low income and early cognitive development in the UK. Commissioned report for the Sutton Trust.
  13. Goodman, A., Sibieta, L. & Washbrook, E. (2009). Inequalities in educational outcomes among children age 3 to 16. Commissioned report for the National Equalities Panel.
  14. Cabinet Office (2008). Aspirations and attainment in deprived communities. Report by the Social Exclusion Task Force. (Contributor).
  15. Washbrook, E. (2007). Explaining the gender division of labour: The role of the gender wage gap. CMPO Working Paper Series No. 07/174. University of Bristol.
  16. Washbrook, E. (2007). Fathers, childcare and children’s readiness to learn. CMPO Working Paper Series No. 07/175. University of Bristol.
  17. Gregg, P., Waldfogel, J. & Washbrook, E. (2005). That's the Way the Money Goes: Expenditure Patterns as Real Income Rise for the Poorest Families with Children. In J. Hills and K. Stewart (eds) A More Equal Society? New Labour, Poverty, Inequality and Exclusion, Policy Press.
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