Using Linked Parent–Child Data and Causal Mediation Analysis to Study Parental Influence on Turnout


This case traces the steps that we took to bring our study from initial conception to publication. The study uses a unique dataset that links the official voting records of 18- to 30-year-olds and their parents to data about their social background characteristics. We explain how we went from testing a loosely connected set of expectations based on the political socialization literature to framing our study as a test of two major theories about the parent–child link in voting. This process necessitated a thorough re-thinking of our research design. We describe how we progressed from estimating straightforward logistic regression models to performing a causal mediation analysis. We emphasize the importance of understanding the assumptions that underlie causal mediation analysis and of incorporating robustness checks. Finally, our case illustrates how the peer-review process stimulated us to develop a stronger theoretical framework and a more sophisticated research design.

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