Estimating the Impact of Education on Political Participation: Evidence from Monozygotic Twins in the United States, Denmark and Sweden

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  • Dinesen, Peter Thisted
  • Christopher Dawes
  • Magnus Johanneson
  • Robert Klemmensen
  • Patrik Magnusson
  • Asbjørn Sonne Nørgaard
  • Inge Petersen
  • Sven Oskarsson
In this study we provide new evidence on the much-discussed effect of education on political participation by utilizing the quasi-experiment of twinning. By looking at the relationship between education and participation within monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs we are able to circumvent traditional sources of confounding of the relationship rooted in genes and early life family environment because MZ twins share both. The results of within-twin pair analyses based on surveys from the United States, Denmark and Sweden show that while the relationship between education and political participation is highly confounded by genes and/or familial environment in all three countries, a positive impact remains of years of education in the US and of high school completion in Denmark. No effect is found in Sweden. Robustness checks suggest that the observed effect is not confounded by within-twin pair differences in prenatal environment nor differential treatment during childhood, and, if anything, that it most likely constitutes a lower bound estimate.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)579-601
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ID: 151389209