Københavns Universitet
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Jonas Hedegaard Hansen defends his PhD thesis at the Department of Political Science

Ph.d.-forsvar — Jonas Hedegaard Hansen defends his PhD thesis "Social Influence, Voter Turnout and Mobilization".


Date & Time:

University of Copenhagen, Centre for Health and Society, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen K., room 4.2.26 (The lunch room/Frokoststuen).

Hosted by:
Department of Political Science



Jonas Hedegaard Hansen

“Social Influence, Voter Turnout and Mobilization”. The thesis can be purchased as an e-book through the webiste of Academic Books

Time and venue
Thursday 11 May 2017 at 14.00.  University of Copenhagen, Centre for Health and Society, Department of Poltical Science, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen K., room 4.2.26. (The lunch room/Frokoststuen). Kindly note that the defence will start precisely at the announced time.

Assessment committee

  • Associate professor Karina Kosiara-Pedersen, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (chair)
  • Professor Edward Fieldhouse, University of Manchester, UK
  • Associate professor Jake Bowers, University of Illinois, USA

The dissertation investigates whether individuals’ social environment affects their turnout behavior and  what effect Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaigns have on turnout. By answering these questions, we gain a better understanding of the causes of voter turnout and are therefore better able to tackle the challenges with inequalities in turnout and declining turnout that many Western democracies struggle with. A central challenge for an empirical analysis of social influence is to move from correlations to causal effects. Although establishing that close peers often behave in similar ways is relatively straightforward, this could be explained by the tendency of individuals to associate with similar others, a phenomenon that is also known as homophily. The combination of high-quality Danish register data and validated turnout information for millions of Danish citizens has allowed me to address this challenge with a variety of research designs. Through a number of empirical studies, the dissertation’s results add to the increasing amount of evidence on the importance of the social environment for understanding citizens’ turnout behavior. The second part of the dissertation focus on the effects of GOTV campaigns on turnout. Across the world, organizations employ GOTV campaigns to mobilize citizens to use their vote. Evaluating the effect of such campaigns can be tricky for a number of reasons, which are discussed in the dissertation. Randomized controlled field experiments can be used to obtain the best possible effect estimate of GOTV campaigns. Over the last twenty years, a vast number of such experiments have been conducted, United States, but almost no studies have been done in Europe. The dissertation presents the results from eight GOTV experiments conducted in relation to the most recent local and European elections in Denmark. Taken together, the findings show that lessons from the United States are useful for European GOTV campaigns, but they also highlight the importance of testing whether GOTV techniques work in different contexts since some important findings from the USA apparently does not transfer well to a high-turnout European context like Denmark.