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Rob Gruijters


  • University Associate Professor
  • Fellow of Murray Edwards College

Contact details


  • Ph.D in Sociology, Humboldt University Berlin

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations

  • Affiliated Research Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa)
  • Associate Member of the Department of Sociology, University of Oxford
  • Fellow of the College for Interdisciplinary Educational Research (CIDER) 
  • Member of the ISA Research Committee 28 on Social Stratification and Mobility (RC28)
  • Member of the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE)

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Rob Gruijters is an Associate Professor in Education & International Development, affiliated with the  Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre. Prior to joining the Faculty in September 2018, he was a postdoctoral researcher in Oxford and Berlin. He is a quantitative sociologist by training and has worked with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in Ghana before starting his Phd.

Rob's primary research interests are in the fields of social stratification, life course research, and comparative education, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries in the global South. His current research focuses on inequality in learning outcomes in relation to school segregation and the growth of private schooling in the global South. Much of this work is based on international learning assessment data, such as PISA, TIMSS, PASEC, and the Peoples Action for Learning (PAL) Network, as well as administrative data. A second research strand looks at young adult life courses in contexts of socio-economic precarity, returns to education, and the problem of youth unemployment. Rob is also interested in the effects of China's market transition on educational and economic inequality; and he has written extensively on China’s ‘Great Transformation’.

His work has been published in Sociology of Education, the European Sociological Review, the Journal of Marriage and Family, Sociology, and the Comparative Education Review, and has been covered in various international media outlets.

Academic Area/Links

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Research Topics

  • Inequality in access and learning outcomes in the global South
  • School segregation
  • Private schools 
  • Life course research
  • School-to-work transitions and returns to education
  • Quantitative methods

I would welcome enquiries from prospective Phd students on the above and related topics.

Current Research Projects

  • What Can We Learn from Ghana’s Free Senior High School Policy” (with Associates for Change, Ghana, funded by the British Academy)
  • The Social and Economic Returns to Education in Francophone West-Africa (with Zachary van Winkle, Sciences Po)
  • “School Segregation in Post-Apartheid South Africa” (with the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa)

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  • Postgraduate
    • MPhil in Education, Globalisation and International Development
    • Research Methods Strand (RMS) 
    • Social Science Research Methods Programme (SSRMP)
  • Undergraduate
    • Education, Policy and International Development
    • Designing Educational Research

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Principal and Recent Publications

Gruijters, R.J., van Winkle, Z., & Fasang, A.E. (2023) “Life Course Trajectories and Wealth Accumulation in the United States: Comparing Late Baby Boomers and Early Millennials.” Forthcoming: American Journal of Sociology 129(2)

Gruijters, R.J., Hübner, N. & Raabe, I. (2023) “Socio-Emotional Skills and the Rich-Poor Learning Gap” Forthcoming: Sociology of Education. SocArXiv Preprint

Gruijters, R.J.,Abango, M., Casely-Hayford, L. (2023) “Secondary School Fee Abolition in Sub-Saharan Africa: Taking Stock of the Evidence.” SocArXiv Preprint

Gruijters, R.J., Elbers, B. & Reddy, V. (2023) “Opportunity Hoarding and Elite Reproduction: School Segregation in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” SocArXiv Preprint

Elbers, B. & Gruijters, R.J. (2022) “Segplot: A New Method for Visualizing Patterns of Multi-Group Segregation.” SocArXiv Preprint

Gruijters, R.J. (2021) “Trends in Educational Stratification during China's Great Transformation”. Oxford Review of Education 48(3): 320-340

Gruijters, R.J., Alcott, B. & Rose, P. (2021) "Do Private Schools Improve Learning Outcomes? Evidence from Within-Household Comparisons in East Africa and South Asia". Comparative Education Review 65(4): 640-666. Winner of the 2022 George Bereday Award for the most outstanding article published in the Comparative Education Review

Gruijters, R.J. (2021). “Low-Fee Private Schooling and Poverty in Developing Countries by Joanna Härmä” [Book review]. Comparative Education Review. 65(3), pp. 573-575

Allier-Gagneur, Z. & Gruijters, R.J. (2021), "Beyond Heyneman & Loxley: The Relative Importance of Families and Schools for Learning Outcomes in Francophone Africa". Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education (online first)

Gruijters, R.J. & Behrman, J. (2020) Learning Inequality in Francophone Africa: School Quality and the Educational Performance of Rich and Poor Children", Sociology of Education. 93(3), pp. 256–276 

Chan, T.W., Ermisch, J. & Gruijters, R.J. (2019) "The Dynamics of Income Inequality: The Case of China in a Comparative Perspective" European Sociological Review. 35 (3), pp. 431–446

Gruijters, R.J., Ermisch, J. and Chan, T. W. (2019) "Trends in Educational Mobility: How Does China Compare to Europe and the United States?" Chinese Journal of Sociology, 5 (2), pp. 214-240

Gruijters, R.J. & Ermisch, J. (2018) "Patrilocal, Matrilocal or Neolocal? Intergenerational Proximity of Married Couples in China", Journal of Marriage and Family, 81(3), pp. 549-566

Steinhilper, E. & and Gruijters, R.J. (2018) "A Contested Crisis: Policy Narratives and Empirical Evidence on Border Deaths in the Mediterranean", Sociology, 52 (3).

Gruijters, R.J. (2018) "Daughters' and Sons' Remittances in Rural China: Findings from a National Survey", Journal of Family Issues, 39(11) 

Gruijters, R.J. (2017) "Intergenerational Contact in Chinese Families: Structural and Cultural Explanations", Journal of Marriage and Family, 79 (3), pp. 758-768 

Gruijters, R.J. (2016) "Beyond Filial Piety: Intergenerational Relations and Old Age Security in Contemporary China", Doctoral dissertation, Berlin: Humboldt University, 148 pages:

Gruijters, R.J. (2015) "Family Care-giving and Living Arrangements of Physically Impaired Elders in Rural China", Ageing & Society, 37 (3), pp. 633-655

For a full overview, see Google Scholar