Kristian Bernt Karlson

Kristian Bernt Karlson


Current position: Director of UCPH Social Science Graduate School

What I do:

  • I study educational stratification, social mobility, and quantitative methods (recent work appears in American Journal of Sociology, British Journal of Sociology and European Sociological Review)
  • I teach advanced quantative methods at BA and MA levels
  • I am Principal Investigator of ERC-funded project on siblings' social mobility (2021-2026) - read more here
  • I am co-leading an interdisciplinary research center on education research - read more here.
  • I am the 2022 winner of the EAS Raymond Boudon Early Career Achievement Award and the 2023 winner of the ASA Leo Goodman Mid-Career Award.
  • I am a consulting editor at Sociological Science.
  • I am deputy member of the Nils Klim Prize Committe (2024-2027).
  • I was an appointed member of the Danish Government's expert committee on student aid (2019-2020).

Full CV: Get it here!

Research areas

  • Educational stratification
  • Social mobility
  • Quantitative methods

Office hours: As I am not teaching this semester, I do not have regular office hours (please contact me via email).


Current research

Current research projects (externally funded)

2021-2026: SIBMOB: Social Class Mobility in Comparative Perspective: Bringing Siblings In (PI, ERC Starting Grant). Read more here!

2021-2025: Center for quantitative educational research, UddanKvant (PI and member of center management, in collaboration with Dept. of Economics and SODAS, funded by the Ministry of Children and Education). Read more here.

Past research projects (externally funded)

2021-2022: The Impact of the Corona Crisis on Disadvantaged Children’s Learning (PI, Spar Nord Fonden, Jesper F. Birkelund as Postdoc)

2019-2022: Equality before the law and noncustodial alternatives to imprisonment: Lessons from 25 years of sentencing policy changes (with Lars H. Andersen og Signe H. Andersen, funded by ROCKWOOL FONDEN).

2018-2022: The Origins and Persistence of Inequality in Denmark (PI, with James Heckman, Stephen Durlauf, and Rasmus Landersø, funded by the Rockwool Foundation) 

2018-2022: Family Background and Returns to Education (PI, funded by the Danish Research Council).

2018-2021: LIFETRACK: Life Course Dynamics of Educational Tracking (PI, coordinator for Danish team in large European research project funded by NORFACE). Read more here:

2016-2020: Social mobility and geographic origin in Denmark (PI, funded by Kraks Fond, in collaboration with the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit).

Selected publications

Karlson, K.B. (2023). "Black-White Trends in Intergenerational Educational Mobility: A Positional Analysis." American Journal of Sociology, 128, 1597-1649. More information.

Karlson, K.B. and Jann, B. (2023). "Marginal Odds Ratios: What They Are, How to Compute Them, and Why Sociologists Might Want to Use Them." Sociological Science, 10, 332-347. More information.

Birkelund, J.F. and Karlson, K.B. (2022). "No Evidence of a Major Learning Slide 14 Months into the COVID-19 Pandemic in Denmark." Published online, European Societies. More information.

Birkelund, J.F., Q. Capsada-Munsech, V. Bolliver, and Karlson, K.B. (2021) "Lives on track? Long-term earnings returns to selective school placement in England and Denmark." British Journal of Sociology, 72, 672-692. More information.

Karlson, K.B., A. Holm, F. Popham (2021). "Marginal and Conditional Confounding using Logits." Sociological Methods & Research, online first. More information.

Karlson, K.B. (2019) "College as Equalizer? Testing the Selctivity Hypothesis." Social Science Research, 80, 216-229. More information.

Jæger, M.M. and K.B. Karlson (2018) "Cultural Capital and Educational Inequality: A Counterfactual Analysis." Sociological Science, 5, 775-795. More information.

Breen, R., K.B. Karlson, and A. Holm (2018) "Interpreting and Understanding Logits, Probits, and other Non-Linear Probability Models." Annual Review of Sociology, 44, 39-54. More information.

Karlson, K.B. (2015) "Expectations on Track? High School Tracking and Adolescent Educational Expectations." Social Forces, 94, 115-141. More information.

Karlson, K.B., A. Holm, and R. Breen (2012) "Comparing Regression Coefficients Between Same-sample Nested Models Using Logit and Probit: A New Method." Sociological Methdology, 42, 286-313. More information.

For more publications, see my profile on Google Scholar.

Research themes

My research covers four themes within the areas of social stratification and quantitative methodology.

First, I study the intergenerational social mobility of siblings in a number of different countries. Although siblings share the rearing environment, they are also different and follow different routes in life. I am interested in how differences in siblings' life courses are shaped both by the family of origin and the larger welfare state and its child, family, educational, and social policies. I will spend the coming years looking into this in a large research project financed by the ERC. You can read more about the project here:

Second, I am occupied by how to best measure inequality of opportunity in comparative mobility research. My research centers on quantifying the extent to which parents pass on to their children educational and social advantages, when these advantages are viewed as positional goods.

Third, I examine the mechanisms generating class inequalities in educational attainment in post-industrial societies. Particularly, I focus on the role played by adolescents’ educational expectations­­ – the beliefs they have about the value of and chances in completing future levels of schooling - in generating these inequalities. I find that these expectations and their development over the educational career strongly affect educational choices and inequalities therein. This finding holds even for Denmark, a country widely regarded as being among the most equal countries in the world.

Fourth, in collaboration with Richard Breen (Oxford University) and Anders Holm (Western University), I have studied the utility of nonlinear probability models such as the logistic regression model in sociological research. Our research suggests new ways of interpreting and using coefficients from these models, particularly when it comes to comparing coefficients between models with different covariates or between groups. Today, our 2012 Sociological Methodology paper ranks among the top-1 percent most highly cited papers published in 2012 according to Web of Science, and is cited widely in journals as diverse as Criminology, Journal of Pediatrics, Demography, Health Economics, Social Forces, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Advances in Nutrition, Journal of Marriage and Family, Children and Youth Services Review, Social Science & Medicine, International Review of Victimology, Schizophrenia Bulletin, Public Opinion Quarterly, and PLoS Medicine.

Selected research activities

Winner of the 2023 Leo Goodman Mid-Career Award, awarded by the American Sociological Association's Methodology Section.

Winner of the 2022 Raymond Boudon Early Career Achievement Award, awarded by the European Academy of Sociology

Associate Editor at Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (2021-2023)

Occasional peer reviewer at American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Forces, British Journal of Sociology, European Sociological Review, Sociology of Education, Social Science Research, Acta Sociologica, Demography, Journal of Political Economy, and many others.

Consulting editor (statistics), YOUNG - Nordic Journal of Youth Research (2014-2020)

Invited talk at joint Nuffield and Centre for Demographic Science seminar. Invitation by Melinda Mills. Nuffield College, Oxford University (October 16, 2019).

Invited seminar: Seminar on the interpretation of parameters in non-linear probability models in sociological research. Invitation by John Goldthorpe. Nuffield College, Oxford University (October 2, 2013).

Conference attendance (with presentation): Social Mobility in the Americas, Center for Poverty and Inequality, Stanford University (April 24-25, 2015)

Research visit at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, DEMOSOC research group (Gösta Esping-Andersen), Barcelona, Spain (September 13 - October 2, 2015)

Research visit at Department of Sociology and Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course, Yale University (April 21 - May 6, 2014).

Professional positions

Appointed member of Government expert committee on student aid (2019-2020)

Independent board member, "Center for Boligsocial Udvikling" (2016-2020)

Vice-President, Danish Sociological Association (2013-2016)

Vice-President, Nordic Sociological Association, (2014-2016)

Board member, Danish Sociological Association (2009-2017)

Head organizer of the Danish Sociological Conference 2014 (January 23-24, 2014)


ID: 32622398