Genetic variation in political participation

James H. Fowler, Laura A. Baker, Christopher Dawes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The decision to vote has puzzled scholars for decades. Theoretical models predict little or no variation in participation in large population elections and empirical models have typically accounted for only a relatively small portion of individual-level variance in turnout behavior. However, these models have not considered the hypothesis that part of the variation in voting behavior can be attributed to genetic effects. Matching public voter turnout records in Los Angeles to a twin registry, we study the heritability of political behavior in monozygotic and dizygotic twins. The results show that a significant proportion of the variation in voting turnout can be accounted for by genes. We also replicate these results with data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and show that they extend to a broad class of acts of political participation. These are the first findings to suggest that humans exhibit genetic variation in their tendency to participate in political activities.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)233-248
    Number of pages16
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    Volume102
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - May 2008

    Fingerprint

    political participation
    voter turnout
    political behavior
    voting behavior
    political activity
    voting
    longitudinal study
    voter
    election
    adolescent
    participation
    health

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science

    Cite this

    Genetic variation in political participation. / Fowler, James H.; Baker, Laura A.; Dawes, Christopher.

    In: American Political Science Review, Vol. 102, No. 2, 05.2008, p. 233-248.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Fowler, James H. ; Baker, Laura A. ; Dawes, Christopher. / Genetic variation in political participation. In: American Political Science Review. 2008 ; Vol. 102, No. 2. pp. 233-248.
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