Frontiers of Political Representation

The identity of politicians affects which policies get selected, how well they are implemented, and who benefits from them.

Olle Folke

While this is intuitive for autocracies, in which rulers face few constraints, it is also true for representative democracies, because policy platforms do not constitute completely enforceable contracts. Because of this, it is important to understand both how individuals from different social groups become political representatives, and how this selection of politicians maps in to specific outcomes. The aim of this project is to expand our understanding of these issues by addressing three groups of research questions. The first examines novel dimensions of selection into politics, and consequences of that selection. The second examines the formation of new political parties, and the third is a joint study of selection into politics and the bureaucracy.

The research project will make unique and important contributions to the research literature on political selection by having access to the world’s most detailed and comprehensive data set of politicians. The data consists of administrative records for the whole Swedish population starting in 1979, in addition to balance sheet data for all firms and scanned data from all political ballots in ten elections (1982-2014). The project will be carried out both in the collaboration with leading scholars in the field and with junior scholars that would be hired through the consolidation grant.


Principal Investigator: Olle Folke (Department of Government)

Period: 2019-01-01–2024-12-31

Funding: SEK 12 000 000 from the Swedish Research Council