Multilevel survey research, agent based modeling and social mechanisms: towards new frontiers in theory-based empirical research
|Convenor||Dr Dominik Becker (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf )|
|Coordinator 1||Dr Tilo Beckers (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)|
|Coordinator 2||Professor Ulf Tranow (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)|
Past studies revealed that living in a religious society has a significant influence on volunteering for both religious and non-religious individuals (Ruiter & De Graaf, 2006). However, most studies used a cross-national approach and there is little evidence of whether the same relation holds at lower levels of analysis, such as regions and counties. This study seeks to improve upon previous research by conducting cross-regional analyses to test under which conditions and how contextual-level religiosity shapes individual-level formal volunteering. The data used comes from Swiss Volunteering Monitor (2010).
The idea of middle-range theories is that social mechanisms may only hold for a limited domain, (i.e. certain temporal, local, or personal conditions). We assume that statistical moderator models with their capacity to estimate marginal effects of a predictor over meaningful values of the moderator are an adequate technique to 'translate' the idea of middle-range theories into quantitative methods of analysis. Substantially, we use German panel data to analyze whether the impact of biographical 'failures' such as low occupational status and/or income on life satisfaction is moderated by respondents' internal vs. external locus of control.
The focus of the study is on youths with a successful educational career who grew up in disadvantaged circumstances of poverty. The construct of resilience is used to explain this, which is a new perspective in the sociological educational research. It could be assumed that children with experience of adversity or disadvantaged circumstances develop well. Using data of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) logistic regression are estimated. The empirical results show that there are social and personal indicators which promote the development of pupils differently depending on the experience of poverty.
Researching the effect of personal contacts on wages, two potential social mechanisms are of interest: better job chances and better wages. An agent based model shows that wage regressions using personal contacts as independent variable never produces an unbiased estimate of the true effect size and sometimes the estimate even has the opposite sign of the true causal wage effect of networks. I compare these results to evidence from multilevel survey data and find that in countries where personal contacts are effective in producing job offers, the share of jobs actually found via personal contacts is lower and vice versa.
The paper reports on new ways for developing agent-based simulation models (ABM) from case based data using a suite of qualitative data analysis. Secondary data sources and interviews are analysed to better understand the drivers for innovation in business to business (B2B) networks. Case data provides nuanced and rich descriptions of complex business network processes under-exploited in ABM.
By combining the case data with ABM, we extend and enrich the use of qualitative data in social simulation and provide new ways of validating simulation models when quantitative data is scarce.