E.M. Merz, dr.

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faculteit der sociale wetensch ( afdeling sociologie )


Since 2015
ASPASIA Talent Fellow at the Depatment of Sociology (0.2 fte), VU Amsterdam
Since 2014
Senior researcher at the Department of Donor Studies, Sanquin Research, Amsterdam
Researcher at the Department of Social Demography, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW), The Hague
PhD student at the Department of Clinical Child and Family Studies, VU Amsterdam

Training & CV

  • 2008: PhD Developmental Psychology
  • 2003: MSc Social Sciences
Curriculum vitae


2008: Caring for Your Loved Ones? An Attachment Perspective on Solidarity Between Generations, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Research interests

  • Donor Careers
  • Social Relationships and Health
  • Inequality and Health
  • Aging and Health Behavior
  • Emotions and Health Compliance



During my PhD-project (2004-2008) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, I have studied intergenerational solidarity within parent-child relationships beyond childhood using attachment theory as framework. Particular attention was paid to integrating sociological and psychological perspectives on parent-child relationships. In the first years as postdoc at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, I examined context-dependency in the shaping of attitudes about family issues across European countries. Furthermore, again using an attachment perspective, I studied the influence of childhood relations on individuals’ fertility intentions and the effects of social support from kin and non-kin networks on wellbeing and health of older adults. 

From 2009 to 2014, I was the project leader of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study (NKPS), an internationally well recognized sociological family survey. Due to its panel design, multi-actor data and multi-method application, the NKPS has offered me the possibility to conduct innovative research on important questions regarding family relationships, health and wellbeing. Many of my publications in the fields of family sociology, attachment and health, are based on this data source. 

Over the past years, I have regularly been invited by knowledge organizations (e.g. Nederlandse Vereniging voor Familie- en Jeugdrecht) and policy-makers (e.g. at the Dutch Ministries of Health, Justice, and Social Affairs) as participant in expert panels or speaker at workshops and seminars.

Current Research

Without blood donors there would be no blood to transfuse or blood products to use. Hence, it is crucial that the donor pool is sufficient, healthy and diverse enough to ensure access to every blood type that is needed. Targeted recruitment of donors with specific characteristics is therefore crucial to meet the demands. In addition, research has shown that the risk of viral infections in repeat donors is much lower than in first-time donors. Therefore retention of donors guarantees a sufficient and healthy blood supply. In our recruitment and retention research we use theories and evidence from social and behavioral sciences to study, explain and influence donor behavior.


VU publications (source: VU-METIS)