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Professor Nicola Yeates

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am Professor of Social Policy in the Department of Social Policy and Criminology. I gained my PhD at Bristol University under the supervision of Professor Peter Townsend. After working at University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, I joined The Open University in 2005.

Professional and Academic Affiliations include 

Chair, Sociology and Social Policy panel, The Undergraduate Awards 

UK Social Policy Association

International Sociological Association Research Committee 19 (poverty and welfare)

Advisory Board, Global Dynamics of Social Policy Collaborative Research Centre (University of Bremen)

Member of the Quality Assurance Agency Social Policy Benchmark Review Group (2016)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Current Departmental Responsibilities

I am the PostGraduate Convenor for Social Policy and Criminology, and welcome enquiries from enthusiastic prospective students seeking to undertake research into social policy and/or criminology at advanced level. See the department's PostGraduate pages for further information.


Research interests

My research centres on transnationalisation and globalisation as social processes, together with their impacts on, and implications for, social policy and welfare as a field of academic teaching and research and as a political practice of state and non-state actors. An on-going theme in my work is how social diversity, divisions and inequalities are constructed, manifested and contested through trans-border social processes.

Recent areas of interest include globalisation(s) 'from above' and 'from below', including the development of global and regional governance and their relationship to national social systems, state and non-state strategies of internationalisation, including labour migration, family formation, health and social protection, and the development of transnational social, advocacy and policy networks. Many of my recent publications are on the relationship between international migration and social and health care ('global care chains'), global social policy, and regional social governance.

My research publications can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online or on my publications profile on this site. 

New in 2021! Global youth unemployment: history, governance and policy (with Ross Fergusson)

Critical acclaim for this book: 

‘Rarely has a study of global youth unemployment so adeptly combined an empirically-grounded scrutiny of its levels and trends, with a conceptually nuanced analysis of its political economy drivers at multiple scales. Fergusson and Yeates make a compelling case for seeing endemic youth unemployment as an issue of grave social injustice–one that supply-side palliative approaches have patently failed to address, and which is in urgent need of integrated employment, social protection and macroeconomic policies backed by a more cohesive system of social and economic governance at the global level.’ – Shahra Razavi, Director of the Social Protection Department, International Labour Organization, Switzerland

‘Fergusson and Yeates’ distinctive voice narrates a timely diagnosis of an acute but understudied phenomenon, as viewed through historical and contemporary lenses. This is a book of big ideas that will set the standard for future analyses of global youth unemployment.' - Heidi Gottfried, Professor of Sociology, Wayne State University, Detroit, USA 

 ‘A vital contribution to our understanding of the transnational structures contributing to the endemic problem of youth unemployment. The study draws attention to the necessity of dealing with this human tragedy through the lens of global social policy analysis. Its conclusions and recommendations are highly relevant for the post-Covid-19 era'. - Robert O'Brien, Professor of Political Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. 


2019: International health worker migration and recruitment: global governance, politics and policy (with Jane Pillinger)  Click here for 20% discount!

Critical Acclaim:

Nicola Yeates has always been at the cutting edge of analysis of the transfer of labor and resources from areas with inadequate health care to health richer zones. In similar fashion, her book with Jane Pillinger breaks new ground by raising the analytical lens from national policy formation to the need for 21st century global governance of transnational health labor recruitment and migration. Emphasizing the dangers of continuing the historical patterns of health brain drain, Yeates and Pillinger call for more equitable world-level policy formation. (Wilma A. Dunaway, Professor Emerita, School of Public & International Affairs, Virginia Tech, US)

The authors of this pathbreaking study creatively amalgamate the literatures on migration, global social policy and healthcare worker recruitment. The facts they reveal are stark. For example, Africa has only three per cent of the world’s health workers, but many are lost to overseas recruitment. Yeates and Pillinger argue that considerations of power, justice and social development need to be given more weight in the conventions governing global labour recruitment. The authors’ long experience, deep knowledge and palpable commitment to social justice lend authority to their analysis and recommendations. (Robin Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Development Studies, University of Oxford, UK)

This important book offers the first historical account of efforts to advance collective action on international health worker migration over the past seventy years.  Using a social policy lens, the authors weave together original research on a broad array of policies, spanning multiple sectors and organizational mandates.  The result is a remarkable analysis which skillfully balances both the granular detail and normative complexity of this critical global governance challenge (Professor Kelley Lee, Canada Research Chair in Global Health Governance, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada)


Other books include:

Globalizing care economies


Understanding global social policyThe Global Social Policy ReaderWorld Regional Social Policy

Recent grants: 

Teaching interests

PhD supervision and examining

I warmly welcome enquiries and proposals from prospective students who are enthusiastic about doing original and high quality research into any aspect of social policy at advanced level. I would be happy to supervise research projects on global and regional social governance, social citizenship, welfare state dynamics and change, international organisations, international migration, international development, social and health care, social protection, work and employment, poverty, social exclusion and social inequality. I have a successful track record of supervising MPhil and Phd students to completion. PhD students include:

  • Alois Nyanhete: The role of international mobile remittances in promoting financial inclusion and development: a Zimbabwean case study

  • Linda de Chenu: Transnational policy making and the rise of national suicide prevention programmes

  • Sarah Hadfield: Young women, employment insecurity and financial autonomy in England

  • Freda Owusu: Critical money transfer linkages: transnational livelihoods and prospects for private remitters of funds from the UK to Ghana and Nigeria

  • Mike Zapp: The Globalization of Education Policy: the Diffusion of Lifelong Learning Models and the Role of International Organizations in Non-OECD Countries

I am an experienced supervisor and examiner of doctoral theses, and have been External Examiner for PhD students registered at universities in the UK, Germany, Ireland and Australia and beyond. 

Undergraduate and taught Masters courses

Global Development (D870, D871). Social Research methods (DD215). Welfare, Crime and Society (DD208)

Welfare, Crime and Society series co-editorship (with S Neal) of three interlinked course books - Social Justice (Newman and Yeates), Security (Cochrane and Talbot) and Community (Neal and Mooney) (McGraw Hill)

Beyond the Open University, I convene and write leading research-based student textbooks on various aspects of social policy, welfare and development in global and international contexts. My popular Understanding Global Social Policy textbook is into its third edition (forthcoming, 2021, The Policy Press/Bristol University Press). I am a regular contributor to the leading student-focused social policy texts, such as The Student’s Companion to Social Policy (5th edition, 2016, Wiley), Social Policy (4th edition, 2014, Oxford University Press), the Understanding Welfare series (The Policy Press/Bristol University Press), and Handbook on Social Policy and Development (Edward Elgar 2019).

I am an experienced External Examiner and have worked with several universities’ undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programmes taught in the UK and overseas. I have also advised on curriculum development in global, international and comparative social policy for UK universities and on various courses on social policy, transnationalism, and migrations for UK and overseas universities.

Impact and engagement

My research brings me into regular contact with a wide range of state and non-state organisations, especially at global level. I have worked with the World Health Organisation, International Labour Organisation, World Bank, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, amongst others, as well as with a range of African, Latin American and Asian world-regional organisations' secretariats and their stakeholders. I enjoy the process of exchanging ideas with partners outside of academia and working with them on projects to help bring about greater global social equity, responsibility and justice. I welcome being contacted about potential projects and partnerships with people and organisations who place the highest value on these priorities.  

Blogs and Policy Briefs:

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Centre for Citizenship, Identifies and Governance (CCIG)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences