Merlin Schaeffer

Merlin Schaeffer


I am a sociologist who specializes in the conceptual and theory-driven empirical analysis of ethnic diversity and inequality stemming from immigration. My research focuses on the resulting processes of stratification, inclusion, and political contestation. I am currently investigating ethno-racial discrimination in immigration societies, with a particular focus on the disparities in perspectives between citizens regarding the definition and perceived prevalence of this form of discrimination. I draw on a wide range of social theories from various traditions to contribute to sociology through original theoretical and conceptual work. My empirical research utilizes state-of-the-art statistical methods to analyze various types of data, including survey data, (online) experiments, behavioral games, register and spatial data, meta-analytic data, and new forms of digital trace data.


My office hour is Tuesdays 10-11am in office 16.1.93.



Current research

My current research revolves around four main questions:

  1. Ethnic diversity and social cohesiveness: How does growing ethnic diversity affect societies' social cohesiveness? I have recently published a review and meta-analysis on this topic with Peter Dinesen (KU Political Science) and Kim Sønderskov (Aarhus University).
  2. 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 am conducting online trust games among a large representative sample of the German population. This research is part of my APAX project, which is funded by the German Research Council (DFG). A second project, funded by the Carlsberg Foundation, uses survey experiments to study misperceptions of the extent of discrimination among mainstream majority Danes.
  3. Ethnic residential segregation: How do immigrants and their descendants fare in mainstream suburbs? In the WELLMOB project, which is also funded by the DFG, Sarah Carol (UC Dublin), Jonas Wiedner (WZB Berlin Social Science Center), and I are investigating the internal migration of persons of immigrant origin and how they fare in terms of subjective wellbeing when they move to mainstream suburbs.
  4. Comparative research: How can we perform valid and reliable statistical multilevel analysis of small cluster samples? I have recently published an article on this topic with Martin Elff (Zeppelin University), Jan Paul Heisig (WZB Berlin Social Science Center), and Susumu Shikano (University of Konstanz) in the British Journal of Political Science.


At KU's Department of Sociology I am teaching statistical methods, courses on race, ethnicity and discrimination, and theory-guided introductions to Sociology. Currently I teach:

  • Multiple Regression and Fundamentals of Causal Inference
  • Sociolodgy of Discrimination



Selected publications

  1. E-pub ahead of print

    The Integration Paradox: A Review and Meta-Analysis of the Complex Relationship Between Integration and Reports of Discrimination

    Schaeffer, Merlin & Kas, J., 3 May 2023, (E-pub ahead of print) In: International Migration Review.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

Selected prizes

  1. ASA Outstanding Article Publication in Mathematical Sociology Award

    Schaeffer, Merlin (Recipient) & Legewie, J. (Recipient), 1 Jun 2018

    Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

  2. ASA Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship in Population Award

    Schaeffer, Merlin (Recipient) & Legewie, J. (Recipient), 1 Sep 2017

    Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

  3. DGS Anatol Rapoport Prize

    Schaeffer, Merlin (Recipient), Höhn, J. (Recipient) & Teney, C. (Recipient), 1 Sep 2016

    Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

ID: 191349312