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Jana Belschner’s TMF project is about to begin

– I want to understand very specifically which electoral reforms can contribute to making democracy in aging societies more generationally equitable.

Picture of Jana Birke Belschner
Photo:
Magnus Buseth Danielsen (UiB).

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The project, Representing the Future in an Aging Europe: The Politics of Demographic Change, begins 1. June 2024 and it will last for 4 years.

The principal investigator, Jana Birke Belschner, is ready to finally get started.

Could you describe the project shortly and in easy terms?

The project is about how aging societies can make sure that the interests of young and future generations are adequately represented in politics. We will look specifically into how different voting participation rates of the young and the old, the age composition of parliaments and governments, and a range of other variables affect generational aspects of policy outcomes.

Why is it important to study this?

In most European societies, demography changes. The share of young people within electorates is shrinking and at the same time, we are confronted with a number of policy challenges where decisions that we make today will have very long-term consequences and affect generations unequally. Not only climate change, but also housing policy or decisions about reproductive rights.

What is your goal with the project?

I want to understand very specifically which electoral reforms can contribute to making democracy in aging societies more generationally equitable. For instance, if younger politicians are more likely to defend young and future generations interests, it may be worth considering youth quotas in political parties and parliaments.

Why did you choose to focus exactly on this?

Because it combines topics that I have been interested in for a long time: The political representation of youth, causal effects of electoral systems and reforms, as well as the time dimension in policy outcomes – what determines how policies distribute costs and benefits over time?

What is the plan moving forward? 

I am currently hiring my team members – one PostDoc, two PhDs, and a research assistant. I am also very excited that two of Sampols Master students will write their thesis within the project. As soon as the team is complete, we will start with the pre-testing and pre-registration of our experiments as well as with getting GDPR approval. Then everything is ready for data collection to begin – and this is where the fun starts.

How does it feel that the project officially starts in just about a week?

Very good! I have spent the first half of 2024 to finish up my previous projects and I am more than ready to embark on a new one.