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Turnout and Education: Is Education Proxying for Pre-Adult Experiences Within the Family?*


This study uses a discordant sibling-based design to assess the extent to which education is proxying for pre-adult experiences and predispositions rooted in the family. It draws on a unique data set that combines official voting records with Census data on siblings and their parents. The results show that the association between education and voting is considerably reduced when parental education, parental voting and unobserved characteristics that are shared by siblings within the same family are taken into account. This finding is confirmed by a variety of robustness checks. We end with a discussion of the benefits and limitations of sibling-based designs for testing causal hypotheses.

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Elisabeth Gidengil, Hiram Mills Professor, Department of Political Science & Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship, McGill University, Leacock Building, Room 414, 855 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2T7 ( Lasse Tarkiainen, Postdoctoral researcher ( and Pekka Martikainen, Professor of Demography (, Population Research Unit, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 18, FIN-00014. Hanna Wass, Academy Research Fellow, University Lecturer, Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 54, Helsinki 00014 ( This research received funding from the Academy of Finland (grant 273433).

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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
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