Research & Publications
Melinda C. Mills is a Professor of Demography and Population Health, and Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on the causes and consequences of demographic change and health, and how these trends intersect with social inequalities. Click below to find out more about her research and publications.
Genetic variants of number of children & natural selection
This 2023 article in Nature Human Behaviour is the largest study to date identifying the genetic determinants of number of children an individual may have. Findings are linked to ancient genome data showing evidence of ongoing natural selection. Read the press release, article or watch the film.
Real-time social media to respond to population displacement in Ukraine
This article demonstrates how real-time data mapping can be used for a targeted humanitarian response. Published in PDR, we leverage social media data and surveys to provide nowcasting estimates of internal population displacement in Ukraine following the Russian invasion. Read the press release, article or listen to the podcast.
Having night owl genetics protects night shift workers
Published in the journal Sleep as part of Mills' ERC Advanced Grant CHRONO, the study found night shift workers with night-owl genetics were protected against sleep penalities. This innovative study used genetics, wearables and self-reported data from the UK Biobank. Read the press release, article, or watch the film.
Data-driven public health policy
This article adopts synthetic-control modelling to investigate the impact of mandatory COVID-19 certificates on vaccine uptake. Published in the Lancet Public Health, it shows certificates increased vaccine update, but depended on context. The study has been used as evidence-based policy by multiple governments. Read the press release, article, FT , Guardian editorials.
Selected scientific publications
Public Health, COVID-19
Dowd, JB, Andriano, A, Brazel DM, Rotondi, V., Block, P, Ding, X, Liu Y & M.C. Mills (2020). Demographic Science aids in understanding the spread and fatality rates of COVID-19, PNAS, 117(18): 9696-98.
Block, P., Hoffman, M., Raabe, I.J., Dowd, J.B., Rahal, C., Kashyap, R. & M.C. Mills (2020). Social network-based distancing strategies to flatten the COVID-19 curve in a post-lockdown world Nature Human Behaviour, 4: 588-596.
Gaye, B. et al. (2020). Socio-demographic and epidemiological consideration of Africas COVID-19 response: what is the possible pandemic course? Nature Medicine. 26: 996-999.
Verhagen, M.D., Brazel, D.M., Dowd, J.B., Kashnitksy, I. & M.C. Mills (2020). Forecasting spatial, socioeconomic and demographic variation in COVID-19 health care demand in England and Wales, BMC Medicine, 18: 203.
Dowd, J.B., P. Block, V. Rotondi & M.C. Mills (2020). Dangerous to claim “no clear association” between intergenerational relationships and COVID-19, PNAS, 117(42): 25975-25976.
Mills, M. & D. Salisbury. (2020). The challenges of distributing COVID-19 vaccinations, EClinicalMedicine, 100674.
Mills, M.C., C. Rahal, D. Brazel, J. Yan and S. Gieysztor. (2020). Vaccine Deployment: Behaviour, ethics, misinformation and policy strategies. London: Royal Society.
Mills, M.C., C. Rahal, E. Akimova. (2020). Face masks and coverings for the general public: Behavioural knowledge, effectiveness of cloth coverings and public messaging, Royal Society.
Ding, X., D.M. Brazel & M.C. Mills (2022). Gender differences in sleep disruption during COVID-19: cross-sectional analyses from two UK nationally representative surveys, BMJ Open, 12(4).
Dowd, J.B., X. Ding, E.Akimova & M.C. Mills. (2020) Health and inequality: The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, London: The British Academy.
Demography, life course
Leasure, D.R. et al. & M.C. Mills (2023). Nowcasting Daily Population Displacement in Ukraine through Social Media Advertising Data, Population and Development Review, 49(2): 231-254.
Präg, P. & M.C. Mills. (2017). Cultural determinants influence assisted reproduction usage in Europe more than economic and demographic factors, Human Reproduction, 32(11): 2305-2314.
Barbuscia, A. & M. C. Mills. (2017). Cognitive development in children up to age 11 years born after ART – a longitudinal cohort study, Human Reproduction. 32(7): 1482-88.
Potârcă, G., M. Mills & M. van Duijn. (2017). The Choices and Constraints of Secondary Singles. Willingness to Stepparent among Divorced Online Daters across Europe, Journal of Family Issues, 38(10): 1443-1470.
Präg, P. & M. C. Mills (2017). “Assisted Reproductive Technology in Europe: Usage and Regulation in the Context of Cross-Border Reproductive Care,” pp. 289-309, in: M. Kreyenfeld & D. Konietzka (Eds.) Childlessness in Europe: Contexts, Causes and Consequences. New York: Springer.
Präg, P, R. Wittek, M.C.Mills (2017). “The educational gradient in self-rated health in Europe: Does the doctor-patient relationship make a difference?” Acta Sociologica, 60(4): 325-341.
Präg, P., M. Mills & R.P.M. Wittek. (2016). Subjective Socioeconomic Status and Health in Cross-National Comparison, Social Science & Medicine, 149: 84-92.
Potârcă, G & M. Mills. (2015). Racial preferences in online dating across European countries, European Sociological Review, 31 (3): 326-341.
Potârcă, G., M. Mills & W. Neberich. (2015). Relationship Preferences among Gay and Lesbian Online Daters: Individual and Contextual Influences, Journal of Marriage and Family. 77(2): 523–541.
Begall, K.H. and M.Mills (2013). The Influence of Educational Field, Occupation and Occupational Sex Segregation on Fertility in the Netherlands, European Sociological Review, 29 (4): 720-742
Mills, M. and H.-P. Blossfeld (2005) Globalization, Uncertainty and the Early Life
Course: A Theoretical Framework”, pp. 1-24, In: H.-P. Blossfeld, E. Klijzing, M. Mills and K. Kurz (Eds.) Globalization, Uncertainty and Youth in Society. London/New York: Routledge Advances in Sociology Series.
For a list of full publications see:
Howe, L.J. et al. (2022). Within-sibship GWAS improve estimates of direct genetic effects, Nature Genetics, 54: 581–92.
Mills, M.C. & I. Mathieson. (2022). The challenge of detecting recent natural selection in human populations, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(15): e2203237119.
Mills, M.C. and C. Rahal. (2020). The GWAS Diversity Monitor tracks diversity by disease in real-time, Nature Genetics. 52: 242–243.
Mills, M.C., N. Barban and F.C.Tropf. (2020). An Introduction to Statistical Genetic Data Analysis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Herd, P., M.C. Mills & J.B. Dowd (2021). Reconstructing Sociogenomics Research: Dismantling Biological Race and Genetic Essentialism Narratives, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 10.1177/00221465211018682.
Barban, N…….M.C. Mills (2016). Genome-wide analysis identifies 12 loci influencing human reproductive behavior, Nature Genetics, 48: 1462-1472.
Courtiol, A., F.C. Tropf & M.C.Mills (2016) When genes and environment disagree: making sense of trends in recent human evolution, PNAS, 113(26): 7693-7695.
Okbay, A. et al. (2016) Genetic variants associated with subjective well-being, depressive symptoms and neuroticism identified through genome-wide analyses. Nature Genetics. 48: 624-633.
Mehta, D.,…..M.C. Mills, N.R Way, S.Hong Lee. (2016). Evidence for genetic overlap between schizophrenia and age at first birth in women. JAMA Psychiatry, 73(3):193-194.
Tropf, F.C. et al. M.C. Mills. (2017). Hidden heritability due to heterogeneity across seven populations, Nature Human Behaviour, 1: 757-765.
Briley, D., F.C. Tropf, M.C.Mills (2017). “What explains the heritability of completed fertility? Evidence from Two large Twin Studies,” Behavior Genetics, 47(1): 36-51.
Tropf, F. C., Mills, M., Barban, N., Stulp, G., and H. Snieder (2015) Human fertility, molecular genetics and natural selection in modern societies, PLoS ONE, 10(6), e0126821.
Tropf, F. C.,Barban, N., M. Mills, Snieder, H. & J. Mandemakers (2015) Genetic influence on age at first birth of female twins born in the UK, 1919-68, Population Studies, 129-145.
Mills, M.C. & T. Rüttenauer (2021). The impact of mandatory COVID-19 certificates on vaccine uptake: Synthetic Control Modelling of Six Countries, The Lancet Public Health, 7(1): E15-E22.
Dye, C. & M.C. Mills (2021). COVID-19 vaccination passports, Science, 371: 1184.
Aburto, JM et al, M.C. Mills (2021). Estimating the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality, life expectancy and lifespan inequality in England and Wales: a population-level analysis, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
Aburto, J.M et al. (2021). Quantifying the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through life-expectancy losses: a population-level study of 29 countries, International Journal of Epidemiology, dyab207.
Ding, X., D.M. Brazel & M.C. Mills (2021). Factors affecting adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19 infections in the first year of the pandemic in the UK, BMJ Open, 11: e054200.
Jennings, W., et al. M.C.Mills (2021). Lack of Trust, Conspiracy Beliefs, and Social Media Use Predict COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, Vaccines, 9(6): 593.
Razai, M.S. et al. (2021) COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy: the five Cs to tackle behavioural and sociodemographic factors, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Mills, M.C. & C. Dye (2021). Twelve criteria for the development and use of COVID-19 vaccine passports. London: Royal Society.
Mills, M. & J. Sivelä (2021). Should spreading anti-vaccine misinformation be criminalised? British Medical Journal, 372:n272.
Mills, M.C. (2022). The future of employment in a post-COVID Europe: Building resilience through a fair social, digital and green economy, A New Era for Europe: How the European Union Can Make the Most of its Pandemic Recovery, Pursue Sustainable Growth, and Promote Global Stability. Pp. 79-107, High-Level Group on Post-COVID Economic and Social Challenges. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
Balbo, N., Billari, F.C. and Mills, M. (2013). Fertility in advanced societies: A review, European Journal of Population, 29: 1-38.
Mills, M., R.R. Rindfuss, P. McDonald and E. te Velde (2011). Why do people postpone parenthood? Reasons and social policy incentives, Human Reproduction Update, 17(6): 848-860.
Liu, A. et al. (2023). The relationship of early-life diseases with lifetime childlessness: Evidence from Finland and Sweden (medRxiv)
Verweij, R, Mills, MC, Snieder, H., G. Stulp. (2020). Three facets of planning and postponement of parenthood in the Netherlands, Demographic Research, 43(23): 659-672.
Taiji, R. & M.C. Mills (2020). Non-standard Schedules, work-family conflict, and the moderating role of national labour context: Evidence from 32 European countries, European Sociological Review, 36(2): 179-192.
Zwinkels, T. and M.C. Mills (2020). Pathways to Power: the Role of Pre-Parliamentary Careers and Political Human Capital in the Obtainment of Cabinet Positions, Legislative Studies Quarterly, 45(2): 207-252
Stulp, G., R. Sear, M.Mills, L. Barrett. (2016). The reproductive ecology of industrial societies: the association between wealth and fertility, Human Nature: An Interdisciplinary Biosocial Perspective, 27: 445-470.
Täht, K. & M. Mills. (2016). Out of Time. The Consequences of Non-standard Employment Schedules for Family Cohesion. New York: Springer.
Mills, M.C. & P. Präg. (2016). Methodological Advances in Cross-National Research: Multilevel Challenges and Solutions, European Sociological Review, 32(1): 1-2.
Begall, K., M. Mills & H.B.G. Ganzeboom. (2015). Non-Standard Work Schedules and Childbearing in the Netherlands: A Mixed-Method Couple Analysis, Social Forces, 93(3): 957-988.
Präg, P., M. Mills & R.P.M. Wittek (2014) Income and income inequality as social determinants of health: Do social comparisons play a role? European Sociological Review, 30 (2): 218-229.
Matthieson, I. et al. M.C.Mills & J. Perry (2023) Genome-wide analyses for reproductive success highlight contemporary natural selection at FADS1/2 locus, Nature Human Behaviour
Mills, M.C. et al. (2021) Identification of 371 genetic variants for age at first sex and birth linked to externalising behaviour, Nature Human Behaviour, 5: 1717–1730.
Akimova, A., Taiji, R., Ding, X and M.C.Mills (2023). Gene-X-Environment Analysis Supports Protective Effects of Eveningness Chronotype on Self-Reported Sleep Duration Among those who Always Work Night Shifts in the UK Biobank, Sleep, 46(5): zsad023
Akimova, E.T., R. Breen, D.M. Brazel & M.C. Mills. (2021) Gene-environment dependencies lead to collider bias in models with polygenic scores, Nature Scientific Reports, 11:9457.
Mills, M.C. and F.C.Tropf. (2020). Sociology, Genetics and the Coming of Age of Sociogenomics, Annual Review of Sociology 46: 553-581.
Mills, M.C. and C. Rahal. (2019) A Scientometric Review of Genome-Wide Association Studies, Communications Biology 2(9).
Mills, M.C. (2019). How do genes effect same-sex behavior? Science, 365(6456): 869-870.
Ding, X., F.C. Tropf, N. Barban and M.C. Mills (2019) Education-linked genetics and its relationship with cognitive decline, Social Science & Medicine 239: 112549.
Ding, X., N. Barban and M.C. Mills. (2019) Educational attainment and allostatic load in later life: Evidence using genetic markers, Preventive Medicine, 129: 105866
Verweij, R., M.C.Mills et al. (2019) Using polygenic scores in social science research: unravelling childlessness, Frontiers in Sociology, doi.org/10.3389/fsoc.2019.00074.
Murtagh, M. J. et al. (2018) Better governance, better access: practising responsible data sharing in the METADAC governance infrastructure, Human Genomics, 12:24.
Mills, M.C., N. Barban & F.C. Tropf. (2018). The Sociogenomics of Polygenic Scores of Reproductive Behavior and Their Relationship to Other Fertility Traits, RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 4(4), 122-136.
Mills, M.C. (2022). Sociogenomics: Theoretical and empirical challenges of integrating molecular genetics into sociological thinking, Handbook of Rigorous Theoretical and Empirical Sociology, Gerxhani, K., N.D. Graaf & W. Raab (eds).
Covid passports could work – but coercion is doomed to fail, The Guardian, 02 August 2021.
Why suggesting mandatory Covid vaccinations is an ethical minefield, The Guardian, 22 June 2021.
Head to Head: Would Covid passports be damaging to public health? The Guardian, 07 April 2021.
People struggle to assess risk, especially in a pandemic, Financial Times, 9 April 2021.
Vaccine passports are a technical and ethical minefield, Financial Times, 26 February 2021.
Trust and transparency vital to vaccine uptake, EasternEye, 3 December 2020
We must prevent a vaccine ‘infodemic’ from fuelling the Covid pandemic, The Guardian, 11 November 2020