The Perpetuity of the Past: Transmission of Political Inequality across Multiple Generations

It is a well-established fact, from decades of research on political socialization, that the children of politically active parents are more likely to become politically active themselves. This poses a challenge for democracy, as it means that inequalities in political influence are reproduced across generations. The present study argues that this problem may be more severe than has hitherto been acknowledged. The reason for this is that previous research on the topic has focused almost exclusively on political transmission between parents and their children, whereas the role played by more distant forebears, such as grandparents, has been largely neglected. In this study, we use Swedish register data to analyze multigenerational associations in electoral participation. The empirical results clearly indicate that the traditional two-generation approach to the study of political transmission tends to underestimate intergenerational persistence in voting behavior and that this excess persistence has both genetic and social roots.

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License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative