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Elisabeth Gidengil, Hannu Lahtinen, Hanna Wass, Jani Erola

From Generation to Generation: The Role of Grandparents in the Intergenerational Transmission of (Non-)Voting


Abstract This study explores the role of grandparents in the intergenerational transmission of the propensity to vote. Grandparental effects are theorized in terms of both social learning and status transmission. The analysis takes advantage of a unique Finnish data set that links official turnout data for grandparents, parents and adult grandchildren with demographic and socioeconomic information from administrative sources. Even controlling for a variety of status-related characteristics, having non-voting grandparents proves to have a negative effect on the adult grandchild’s propensity to vote. This effect is
only partly explained by the mediating effect of parental turnout. Having nonvoting grandparents appears to reinforce the effect of having parents who do not vote and may even offset the effects of having parents who are both voters. The concluding discussion addresses some of the study’s limitations and lays out several possible future research directions.