Dr Kevin Ralston

Kevin Ralston

My research generally involves the study of inequalities and I have published papers examining inequalities in health, occupational and family outcomes. My PhD examined social group variation in the timing of first birth. In this I argued that norms and structures influence overall childbearing goals people have, whilst social stratification and inequality influences the timing of births and whether people reach the end of their childbearing having not met their original aims.

I am currently working to establish a body of research examining inequalities, including differences in experience around the sociology of work and family life. This builds on previous PhD work, a substantial research project for the Scottish Government and several publications on health inequalities. A central hypothesis of this is that young people today face measurably less favourable circumstances than previous cohorts. There is a perception that this is the case. It is also the case that outcomes are nuanced with different groups disproportionately experiencing inequalities.

I am especially interested in generational differences in core experience, such as work, health, education and family circumstances. I am particularly keen to incorporate a family unit perspective as a unit of analysis, as well as analysis of individual life course trajectories. The material and social circumstances of children, their development and transitions to adulthood play an important part in this. My C.V. shows a developing a track record in publication on the above mentioned themes.

I teach quantitative methods. I am also involved in pedagogical projects examining the teaching of Quantitative Methods (QM). This includes a National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) project which focusses on a theme of statistical anxiety and QM understanding. Also a British Academy (BA) grant to synthesise and analyse the research literature in relation to maths anxiety, this project is led by Manchester University in collaboration with Loughborough University and Edinburgh University.

Further Information


I currently teach qantitative methods in sociology and quantitative methods in criminology; Social Inequalities: Classic Debates; The Sociology of Work. I am developing courses in Social Demography and Big Data and Society.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (undertaken through the University of Edinburgh)

Professional Activities

Editor, NCRM Working paper series

Reviewer in various scientific journals: e.g. International Journal of Health Geographics, Contemporary Social Science, Public Health,

Contemporary Economic Policy Blog curator 'The Detective's Handbook'


Vincent J and Ralston K (2019) Trainee teachers’ knowledge of autism: implications for understanding and inclusive practice. Oxford Review of Education: 1–20. DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2019.1645651.

Davis PE, Webster LAD, Fernyhough C, et al. (2018) Adult report of childhood imaginary companions and adversity relates to concurrent prodromal psychosis symptoms. Psychiatry Research. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.11.046.

Katikireddi, S.V., Leyland, A.H., McKee, M., Ralston, K., and Stuckler, D., 2017. Patterns of mortality by occupation in the UK, 1991–2011: a comparative analysis of linked census and mortality records. The Lancet Public Health

Ralston, K., Walsh, D., Feng, Z., Dibben, C., McCartney, G., O’Reilly, D. (2017) Do differences in religious affiliation explain high levels of excess mortality in the UK? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Ralston, K., Everington, D., Feng, Z., Dibben, C. (2016) ‘Do young people not in education employment or training (NEET) experience long term occupational scarring? A longitudinal analysis over 20 years of follow up’ Contemporary Social Research. 

Ralston, K., Gayle, V., Lambert, P. (2016) Gender, Occupation and First Birth: Do “Career Men” Delay First Birth Too? Sociological Research Online 21, 3. 

Millard, A. D., Raab, G. M., James Lewsey, Eaglesham, P., Craig, P., Ralston, K., and McCartney, G. (2015) “Mortality differences between equality groups, and inequalities in mortality within equality groups, in Scotland 1991-2009”  International Journal for Equity in Health. 

Ralston, K., Dundas, R. & Leyland, A. (2014) A comparison of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2004 with the 2009+1 SIMD: does choice of measure affect the interpretation of inequality in mortality? International Journal of Health Geographics, 13, 27. 

Additional Publications

Under review

Ralston, K., MacInnes, J., Gayle, V., Crow, G. Is statistical anxiety negatively associated with course performance? in Journal of Statistics Education


Ralston, K., Gayle, V. (2017) Exploring ‘generations’ and ‘cultures’ of worklessness in contemporary Britain. Youth and policy. October 2017

Feng, Z., Ralston, K., Everington, D., Dibben, C. (2017) Long term health effects of NEET experiences: evidence from a longitudinal analysis of young people in Scotland. International Journal for Population Data Science 1. ISSN 2399-4908.


Ralston, K., MacInnes, J., Crow, G., and Gayle, V. (2016) We need to talk about statistical anxiety. A review of the evidence around statistical anxiety in the context of quantitative methods pedagogy. NCRM Working Paper, NCRM 

Katikireddi, S. Leyland, A.H. McKee, M. Ralston, K. Stuckler, D. (2016) Occupational mortality rates in the UK: Geographical comparisons using linked administrative data. European Journal of Public Health 26(suppl_1), ckw166.083


Feng, Z., Everington, D., Ralston, K., Dibben, C., Raab, G., Graham, E. (2015) Consequences, risk factors and geography of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), Government Social Research Report. Scottish Government, Children, Education and Skills.

Ralston, K., and MacInnes, J. Crow, G. Gayle, V. (2015), Quantitative Methods Pedagogy in Social Science, Methods News, ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Newsletter, Summer 2015

Ralston, K. (2015), A practical guide to Using Panel Data, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 015, (book review)

Raab, G. Ralston, K. (2015), E-DataSHIELD: E-mail Data Aggregation Through Anonymous Summary-statistics from Harmonized Individual levEL Databases, Scottish Longitudinal Survey Working Paper.


Dundas, R. Walsh, D. Brown, D. Allik, M. Ralston, K., Davies, C.A. Leyland, A.H. 2014. The influence of individual socioeconomic status and area deprivation on cause-specific mortality in England. European Journal of Public Health 24(suppl_2), cku:164–016.

Millard, A. D., Raab, G., Lewsey, J., Eaglesham, P. C. P., Ralston, K., and McCartney, G. (2014). Equality, inequality and mortality in Scotland. NHS Health Scotland.

Ralston, K., Everington, D., Dibben, C. & Feng, Z. (2014). Risk factors and consequences of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET): Phase two interim report, Report Scottish Government, employability, skills and lifelong learning directorate.

Ralston, K., Dibben, C. Feng, Z. (2014). Risk factors and consequences of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), report on preliminary results, Report Scottish Government, employability, skills and lifelong learning directorate.


Dundas, R., Ralston, K., Walsh, D., and Leyland, A. (2013) OP31 is excess mortality in Glasgow an artefact of inadequate control for deprivation: a case-control study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 67 (Sup 1). A16-A17. ISSN 0143-005X 

Ralston, K. (2012). The Relationship between Social Stratification and First Birth in Scotland. In: Lambert, P., Connelly, R., Blackburn, R. M. & Gayle, V. (eds.) Social Stratification: Trends and Processes. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Ralston, K., Connelly, R. Murray, S. Playford, C. (2010) ‘Methods in Survey Design to Improve Response Rates: A Review of the Empirical Evidence’, School of Applied Social Science Working Paper.

Ralston, K. and Stannard, A. (2010). Report on Response to Scottish Government Population Surveys. Office of the Chief Statistician, Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

PhD thesis: Ralston, K. (2012) Childbearing and First Birth in Scotland, University of Stirling

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