Portrait of Dr Lavinia Mitton

Dr Lavinia Mitton

Senior Lecturer in Social Policy
Deputy Director of Education (Stage 1)


Dr Lavinia Mitton’s teaching and research interests are social inequalities in the UK. Her specialist areas of expertise are ethnicity and poverty studies. She has published on ethnic minorities in the UK and is co-editor of a major social policy textbook for Oxford University Press. 

Dr Mitton came to the University of Kent from the London School of Economics, where she did her PhD, titled “The Objectives and Outcomes of Means Testing under the British Welfare State”. It analysed the effectiveness of the policy of means testing welfare payments between the mid-1960s and the mid-1990s. Before that she worked for Professor Holly Sutherland as a Junior Research Officer in the then Microsimulation Unit based at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Applied Economics. 

Dr Mitton has a PhD from the London School of Economics. Her MSc is from Wolfson College, University of Oxford, and is in The Social History of Medicine. Her BA is from Somerville College, University of Oxford, and is in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. 

Research interests

Dr Mitton's research interests are in the field of social inequalities in the UK from a social policy perspective. Her specialist areas of expertise are ethnicity and poverty studies. She has a particular interest in analysing very large-scale surveys, such as the Family Resources Survey and the Labour Force Survey. 

Current research

Dr Mitton's longstanding research interest is in one of the central concerns of social policy: how societies provide for the needs, welfare and well-being of their members by the redistribution of resources through taxes and benefit schemes.

In particular, Dr Mitton has worked on the problem that whilst means testing can target cash and services at the people that need them most, it can have many unintended consequences. For example, recipients of income-related benefits might change their behaviour in unexpected ways. Dr Mitton has investigated both the underlying principles of means-testing, and how such policies can be operationalised in practice by government departments and grant-making organisations.

Past research

During Dr Mitton's career, she has also collaborated on major projects on two other topics. First, Dr Mitton brought her expertise in the analysis of large data sets to an ESRC project on Black Africans in the UK. Second, Dr Mitton has also worked on the University of Kent Student Success (EDI) Project. This is an institutional research project that aims to promote student equality by conducting research into attainment differences and developing evidenced activities and interventions to support student success.  


Dr Mitton teaches on the University of Kent Policy Studies Apprenticeship Certificate, which is a distance learning programme for policy officers and policy managers. It equips them for roles in central and local government, as well as within public bodies, the private sector and voluntary organisations that interact with, and strive to influence, government policy.

Dr Mitton also teaches undergraduate modules on the welfare state in the UK and on social inequalities in the UK.


Dr Mitton's current research students are: 

  • Ada Cheung (with Dr Joy Zhang) - 'Community care for older people in Urban China' 
  • Jellina Davies (with Dr Anne Logan) - 'Applying Behaviour Change Principles to Welfare Benefit Cap Regulation' 
  • Emma Stait (with Professor Mike Calnan) - 'Cigarette smoking and socio-economic position - prevalence, patterns and explanations' 


Dr Mitton is co-editor of the fourth edition of 'Social Policy', a major textbook from Oxford University Press.

In 2013-14, Dr Mitton participated in the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Aurora Programme 

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