New publication: “Ethnic Enclaves, Self-employment, and the Economic Performance of Refugees: Evidence from a Swedish Dispersal Policy”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in International Migration Review: “Ethnic Enclaves, Self-employment, and the Economic Performance of Refugees: Evidence from a Swedish Dispersal Policy”. This article estimates the causal effect of residential concentration of co-ethnics (ethnic enclaves) on the probability to start a business among refugees in Sweden. Results indicate that the share of self-employed co-ethnics in the port of entry municipality increases refugees’ probability of entry into self-employment, while the actual share of local co-ethnics has no effect or, in some cases, a negative effect. The results support the conclusion that skills and resources within the local ethnic enclave, particularly skills relevant for self-employment, are crucial for generating new entry into self-employment for refugees, while simply more co-ethnics, plausibly increasing an ethnic market’s size, are of less importance. Moreover, the results suggest that being placed with a larger share of self-employed co-ethnics is negatively related to refugees’ long-term disposable income; however, assuming there is no or little selection of high-ability refugees into self-employment, this negative relationship can be counteracted by the choice of self-employment. The study adds new knowledge on the arguably crucial topic of socio-economic integration of an important group of international migrants — namely, refugees.

New publication: “Parents, Peers, and Politics: The Long-term Effects of Vertical Social Ties”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in Quarterly Journal of Political Science: “Parents, Peers, and Politics: The Long-term Effects of Vertical Social Ties”.  We examine how one’s adult political participation is affected by having social ties to a politician during adolescence. Specifically, we estimate the long-term effect of having had a classmate during upper secondary school whose parent was running for office on future voter turnout and the likelihood of running for and winning political office. We use unique Swedish population-wide administrative data and find that students in school classes with a larger number of politically active parents are more politically active as adults, bothin terms of voting and political candidacy. Our results suggest that the effect of vertical social ties is predominantly mediated by indirect links between the politician and the student via the children of politicians. Moreover, we show that the strength of these mobilizing effects depends on the individual’s basic predisposition to engage in different types of political activities.

Podcast discussing CONPOL research

A recent episode of the popular Swedish podcast “Det politiska spelet” included a discussion about two CONPOL studies on the relationship between sibling order and political participation. In the first study, accepted for publication in British Journal of Political Science we show that sibling order is related to voter turnout in Norway and Sweden. In the second study we instead focus on political candidacy in s single country – Sweden – and show that earlier born siblings are more likely to run for and win political office. You can listen to the podcast epidode here. A short interview about the two studies also appeared in the news outlet Dagens Samhälle.

New publication: “Practice makes voters? Effects of student mock election on turnout.”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in Politics: “Practice makes voters? Effects of student mock election on turnout”.  Student mock elections are conducted in schools around the world in an effort to increase political interest and efficacy among students. There is, however, a lack of research on whether  mock elections in schools enhance voter turnout in real elections. In this article, we examine whether the propensity to vote in Swedish elections is higher among young people who have previously experienced a student mock election. The analysis is based on unique administrative population-wide data on turnout in the Swedish 2010 parliamentary election and the 2009 European Parliament election. Our results show that having experienced a mock election as a student does not increase the likelihood of voting in subsequent real elections. This result holds when we study both short- and long-term effects, and when we divide our sample into different parts depending on their socio-economic status and study each part separately.

Successful VR grant proposal!

CONPOL PI Sven Oskarsson together with CONPOL member Rafael Ahlskog received a 13 MSEK grant from VR (the Swedish Research Council) for a project with the title: “The genetics of life course outcomes: Leveraging new methods to advance social-science genomics”. The departure point of thi sproject is a fundermental question: Why are some people more highly educated, healthier and, in general, happier than others? Understanding the origins of social and economic inequalities in life course outcomes between individuals is fundamental to the social sciences. Recent research demonstrates that these complex social traits, apart from environmental determinants, are also influenced by genetics. Moreover, it is likely that the genetic influences vary across social circumstances: genes and environment interact. This project aims at developing an international and interdisciplinary research environment at the forefront of social science genomics. By leveraging the increasing availability of genetic data combined with register and survey data, we intend to increase the understanding of three broad classes of life course outcomes: (i) education and labor market outcomes, (ii) social and political behaviors and (iii) health-related behaviors and outcomes. The project has three aims. First, we will perform genome-wide association studies of several new outcomes. Second, to reduce barriers to entry for researchers in the wider social science field interested in using genomic data in their research, we will construct a repository for polygenic scores for several major social-scientific surveys. Third, we intend to maintain and develop this interdisciplinary research environment by providing opportunities for a number of postdocs and PhD students to establish themselves in the social genomic research field. You can find more information about the project here.

The project is closely related to some of the major themes in the CONPOL framework, especially questions regarding how political engagement is shaped within the family context, and will be carried out in collaboration with several of the CONPOL team members.

New publication: “Access to education and political candidacy: Lessons from school openings in Sweden.”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in Economic of Education Review: “Access to education and political candidacy: Lessons from school openings in Sweden.” In this paper we examine how availability of education affects who becomes a political representative. Theorists have pointed out that access to education is a key to a well-functioning democracy, but few empirical studies have examined how changes in the access to education influence the chances of becoming a politician. In this paper, we analyze the effects of a large series of school openings in Sweden during the early 20th century, which provided adolescents with better access to secondary education. We use administrative data pertaining to the entire Swedish population born between 1916 and 1945. According to our empirical results, the opening of a new lower secondary school in a municipality increased the baseline probability of running for political office by 10–20%, and the probability of holding office by 20–30%.

New Publication: “Enhancing Electoral Equality: Can Education Compensate for Family Background Differences in Voting Participation?”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in the American Political Science Review: “Enhancing Electoral Equality: Can Education Compensate for Family Background Differences in Voting Participation?” The departure point of this study is the well documented fact that voter turnout is lower among persons who grow up in families from a low socioeconomic status compared with persons from high-status families. The paper examines whether reforms in education can help reduce this gap. We establish causality by exploiting a pilot scheme preceding a large reform of Swedish upper secondary education in the early 1990s, which gave rise to exogenous variation in educational attainment between individuals living in different municipalities or born in different years. Similar to recent studies employing credible identification strategies, we fail to find a statistically significant average effect of education on political participation. We move past previous studies,however, and show that the reform nevertheless contributed to narrowing the voting gap between individuals of different social backgrounds by raising turnout among those from low socioeconomic statushouseholds. The results thus square well with other recent studies arguing that education is particularlyimportant for uplifting politically marginalized groups.

The paper is published as open access and is available here.

Successful RJ grant proposal!

CONPOL PI Sven Oskarsson together with CONPOL member Rafael Ahlskog received a 5.8 MSEK grant from RJ (the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation) for a project with the title: “Nature via Nurture: Using novel methods to shed new light on how gene-environment interactions shape social, economic and political attitudes and behavior”. The project revolves around fundamental about the origins of social, economic and political inequalities in life course outcomes between individuals. Why are some people more likely to be highly educated, end up in high status jobs, be healthier and live longer, be more politically engaged, and, in general, happier than others? Recent interdisciplinary research suggests that complex human behaviors and life chances may be shaped by an intricate interplay between genes and environment. However, the knowledge of how these so called gene-by-environment interactions actually work is limited: what genetic factors interact with what social, economic and political factors, and how? The dearth of stable and reproducible progress in this area has in large parts been due to two severe problems: limitations in the available scientific methods and shortage of adequate data. In this project we intend to overcome these problems by making use of recent innovations in molecular genetics and methodological advances in the social sciences in combination with unique Swedish register data. Thus, the goal of the project is to investigate in a robust and credible way how gene-environment interactions shape social, economic, and political attitudes and behavior. In the end, a more solid foundation for the research on gene-environment interactions can also aid in developing more effective policies that deal with the social roots and consequences of inequality. You can find more information about the project here.

The project is closely related to some of the major themes in the CONPOL framework, especially questions regarding how political engagement is shaped within the family context, and will be carried out in collaboration with several of the CONPOL team members.

New publication: “It Runs in the Family: A Study of Political Candidacy Among Swedish Adoptees.”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in Political Behavior: “It Runs in the Family: A Study of Political Candidacy Among Swedish Adoptees.” Recent work has shown that early life parental socialization is strongly associated with a desire to run for office. However, parents not only shape their children’s political environment, they also pass along their genes to those same children. A growing area of research has shown that individual differences in a wide range of political behaviors and attitudes are linked to genetic differences. As a result, genetic factors may confound the observed political similarities among parents and their children. This study analyzes Swedish register data containing information on all nominated and elected candidates in the ten parliamentary, county council, and municipal elections from 1982 to 2014 for a large sample of adoptees and their adoptive and biological parents. By studying the similarity in political ambition within both adoptive and biological families, our research design allows us to disentangle so-called “pre-birth” factors, such as genes and pre-natal environment, and “post-birth” factors like parental socialization. We find that the likelihood of standing as a political candidate is twice as high if one’s parent has been a candidate. We also find that the effects of pre-birth and post-birth factors are approximately equal in size. In addition, we test a number of potential pre- and post-birth transmission mechanisms. First, disconfirming our expectations, the pre-birth effects do not seem to be mediated by cognitive ability or leadership skills. Second, consistent with a role modeling mechanism, we find evidence of a strong transmission in candidacy status between rearing mothers and their daughters.

The paper is published as open access and is available here.