New publication: “Intergenerational transmission of party affiliation within political families”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in Political Behavior: “Intergenerational transmission of party affiliation within political families”. We investigate the intergenerational transmission of political-party affiliation within families with at least two politicians. We use Swedish registry data that covers all nominated politicians for the years 1982 to 2014, as well as their family ties. First, we demonstrate there is a strong link between individuals and their parents concerning party affiliation. We also find that this intergenerational transmission persists over generations and across siblings. Our second aim is to investigate the mechanisms behind this result, which we do by first discussing two hypotheses: the one concerns a socialization pathway, the other a materialistic one. We then bring these hypotheses to the data, and we find that the socialization pathway matters more for
intergenerational transmission.

New publication: “Big brother sees you, but does he rule you?”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in Journal of Politics: “Big brother sees you, but does he rule you?” While recent research finds strong evidence that birth order affects outcomes such as education, IQ scores, earnings, and health, the evidence for effects on political outcomes is more limited. Based on population-wide data from Sweden, our within-family estimates show that firstborns are significantly more likely to run for and be elected to political office. In addition, for the males in our sample we test whether a number of potential mechanisms account for the relationship between birth order and political participation. Disconfirming our expectations, the birth order effects are only marginally smaller when controlling for occupational economic status, cognitive ability and leadership skills. Our results suggest that big brother, or for that matter big sister, not only sees us; to a certain extent he or she also rules us.

New publication: “Birth Order and Voter Turnout”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in British Journal of Political Science: “Birth Order and Voter Turnout”. Previous studies have stressed the role of a child’s family environment for future political participation. This field of research has, however, overlooked that children within the same family have different experiences depending on their birth order. First-borns spend their first years of life without having to compete over their parents’ attention and resources, while their younger siblings are born into potential rivalry. We examine differences in turnout depending on birth order, using unique population-wide individual level register data from Sweden and Norway that enables precise within-family estimates. We consistently find that higher birth order entails lower turnout, and that the turnout differential with respect to birth order is stronger when turnout is lower. The link between birth order and turnout holds when we use data from four other, non-Nordic countries. This birth order effect appears to be partly mediated by socio-economic position and attitudinal predispositions.

New publication: “Education and voter turnout revisited: Evidence from a Swedish twin sample with validated turnout data”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in Electoral Studies: “Education and voter turnout revisited: Evidence from a Swedish twin sample with validated turnout data”. The association between education and voter turnout is well-established in almost a century of research. The causal status of this correlation, however, is still subject to debate. Results in the previous literature differ substantially, and this may reflect both methodological differences and heterogeneous effects across populations or types of elections. This study addresses the question using a discordant twin design and variance decomposition methods with validated turnout data for both first- and second-order elections in a large sample of Swedish twins, paired with population-wide sibling data. Results show that education does not have an effect on national electoral turnout, but does have an effect on turnout in the European elections. Furthermore, the
association between education and turnout is shown to be affected by substantial genetic confounding, which leaves a non-trivial amount of bias even in sibling based designs. This underscores the importance of taking genetic confounding seriously in observational research.

New publication: “Disentangling the Impact of Civil Association Membership on Political Participation: Evidence from Swedish Panel Data”

The CONPOL team are pleased to announce a new publication in British Journal of Political Science: “Disentangling the Impact of Civil Association Membership on Political Participation: Evidence from Swedish Panel Data”. What is the effect of membership in civil associations on political participation? Membership has been linked to providing social capital and personal networks, which in turn help citizens  more easily navigate politics. Yet this link is empirically complex, since politically interested individuals self-select into networks and associations. This research note addresses the impact of membership on different forms of political participation using a panel survey from Sweden that distinguishes between passive and active membership in various types of associations. The baseline results reaffirm a strong association between membership and political participation. The survey’s panel dimension is exploited to reveal that earlier scholarship has likely overstated the robustness of membership’s participatory effects. Rather, the remaining impact of association membership in the panel specification is mainly driven by types of associations for which the highest degree of selection behaviour is expected.

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.