Pre-birth factors, post-birth factors, and voting: Evidence from Swedish Adoption Data

David Cesarini, Magnus Johannesson, Sven Oskarsson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article analyzes a rich Swedish data set with information on the electoral turnout of a large sample of adoptees, their siblings, their adoptive parents, and their biological parents. We use a simple regression framework to decompose the parent-child resemblance in voting into pre-birth factors, measured by biological parents' voting, and post-birth factors, measured by adoptive parents' voting. Adoptees are more likely to vote if their biological parents were voters and if they were assigned to families in which the adoptive parents vote. We find evidence of interactions between the pre- and post-birth factors: the effect of the post-birth environment on turnout is greater amongst adoptees whose biological mothers are nonvoters. We also show that the relationships between parental characteristics, such as education, and child turnout, persist even in the absence of a genetic link between parent and child. The regression-based framework we utilize provides a basis for the integration of behavior-genetic research into mainstream political science.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)71-87
    Number of pages17
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Feb 2014

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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