Merlin Schaeffer

Merlin Schaeffer

Associate Professor

I am a sociologist who primarily works on international immigration. Most importantly, I work on racial and ethnic discrimination, racial and ethnic stratification on European labor markets, and on the political sociology of immigration. My work relies on state-of-the-art statistical methods (i.e., social data science), which I use to analyze survey data, (online) experiments, register and spatial data, or new forms of digital data. Much of my research has a comparative angle, and I also work on the advancement of the statistical methods used for comparative research.

Current research

Currently, my work revolves around the following six questions:

  1. Corona outbreak: What is the impact of social distancing policies on everyday routines, mental health, and family life? Together with Jan Paul Heisig (WZB Berlin Social Science Center), Thomas Morton (KU Psychology) and Séamus Power (KU Psychology), I am currently conducting an online day-reconstruction survey on the consequences of the Corona outbreak for mental health and family life: KU Corona Diary.
  2. Ethnic diversity: How does growing ethnic diversity affect societies’ social cohesiveness? Please see my recent review and meta-analysis on the topic, which I published with Peter Dinesen (KU Political Science) and Kim Sønderskov (Aarhus University).
  3. Perceived and actual discrimination: Why do claims about the pervasiveness of discrimination seem to intensify, as western societies increase equality and liberty with regards to immigrant minorities? To answer this question I will conduct online trust games among a large representative sample of the German population. This research constitutes my APAX project funded by the German Research Council (DFG).
  4. Job-education mismatches: How can we explain the careers of mismatched employees on European labor markets? In this project, Jonas Wiedner (WZB Berlin Social Science Center) and I focus on the undereducated, that is people whose careers lie beyond their formal qualifications.
  5. Ethnic residential segregation: How do immigrants and their descendants fare in mainstream suburbs? In the WELLMOB project funded by the German Research Council (DFG), Sarah Carol (UC Dublin), Jonas Wiedner (WZB Berlin Social Science Center) and I investigate the internal-migration of persons of immigrant origin and how they fare in terms of subjective wellbeing when they move to mainstream suburbs.
  6. Comparative research: How can we perform valid and reliable statistical multilevel analysis of small cluster samples? Please see my most recent article on the topic with Martin Elff (Zeppelin University), Jan Paul Heisig (WZB Berlin Social Science Center) and Susumu Shikano (University of Konstanz), which will soon appear in the British Journal of Political Science.


At KU's Department of Sociology I predominantly teach advanced MA courses on quantitative methods. However, at other Universities I have also taught theory-guided introductions to Sociology, or basic introductions to statistics. Currently I teach classes on:

  • Spatial Sociology
  • Introduction to R for Social Data Science
  • Applied Multilevel Modeling: Racism and Xenophoba
  • Sociology in the Age of Big Data



Selected publications

  1. Published

    Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: A Narrative and Meta-Analytical Review

    Dinesen, Peter Thisted, Schaeffer, Merlin & Sønderskov, K. M., 2020, In : Annual Review of Political Science. 23, p. 441-465

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    Social Mobility and Perceived Discrimination: Adding an Intergenerational Perspective

    Schaeffer, Merlin, 2019, In : European Sociological Review. 35, 1, p. 65-80 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  3. Contested Boundaries: Explaining Where Ethnoracial Diversity Provokes Neighborhood Conflict

    Legewie, J. & Schaeffer, Merlin, 2016, In : American Journal of Sociology. 122, 1, p. 125-161

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  4. The Costs of Simplicity: Why Multilevel Models May Benefit from Accounting for Cross-Cluster Differences in the Effects of Controls

    Heisig, J. P., Schaeffer, Merlin & Giesecke, J., 2017, In : American Sociological Review. 82, 4, p. 796-827

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Selected activities

  1. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (External organisation)

    Schaeffer, Merlin (Member)

    Activity: Membership typesMembership in committee, council, board


  1. ASA Outstanding Article Publication in Mathematical Sociology Award

    Schaeffer, Merlin (Recipient) & Joscha Legewie (Recipient), 1 Jun 2018

    Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

  2. ASA Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship in Population Award

    Schaeffer, Merlin (Recipient) & Joscha Legewie (Recipient), 1 Sep 2017

    Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

  3. DGS Anatol Rapoport Prize

    Schaeffer, Merlin (Recipient), Jutta Höhn (Recipient) & Céline Teney (Recipient), 1 Sep 2016

    Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

ID: 191349312