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Friday 17th July, 13:00 - 14:30 Room: O-101

The interplay of conceptual and measurement validity in cross-nation analysis

Convenor Professor Jaak Billiet (CeSO - KU Leuven )

Session Details

There is a long-standing tradition of cross-nation research, especially in comparative analysis in which political systems are analysed as cases or used as context. Social researchers believe that the context affects individual characteristics, attitudes, choices and behaviour. The nature of the research questions that ask for comparative quantitative analysis has been drastically changed due to the increasing availability of comparable micro data collected in many countries, and the development in methodology. Notwithstanding the advancements made, cross-nation research still confronts considerable scientific challenges, both in terms of methodology and the underlying theoretical assumptions. In recent years, a attention is paid to the challenges of measurement validity in broad sense (non-response bias and measurement equivalence) and to statistical analysis of hierarchical models. Less attention has been paid to the assumptions behind conceptualization and design aspects of relation in hierarchical models.
In this section we hope to discuss papers in which attention is paid to the assumptions made when lower and higher level variables are combined into explanatory multi-level models. We welcome papers in which attention is paid to the so called micro-macro link, the designs used, and the validity of operationalization and inferences. Reflections based at empirical examples of research are especially welcomed.

Background paper: Billiet, J., Meuleman, B. & Davidov, E. (2015). Some methodological challenges of cross-national social Research: conceptual and measurement validity. In Pawel B. Sztabinski, Henryk Domanski, and Franek Sztabinski (eds.) Hopes and Anxieties. Six Waves of the European Social Survey. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang (in press: expected April 2015)

Paper Details

1. Measuring well-being and fertility in cross-national perspective
Dr Hideko Matsuo (University of Leuven)

This study is about the fertility decline in the context of low and late fertility in contemporary populations. The focus of this work is to examine the role of well-being on fertility level in addition to the usual socio-economic and biological determinants at the individual level. The analysis of such individual life histories is grounded in established theoretical approaches (methodological individualism). The operationalization of this approach is however, confronted with several conceptual and operational challenges including the extent of nonresponse bias and measurement of equivalence in a cross-national context. Case study approach is taken to examine this.

2. How to record events on country level for cross-national comparisons? The case of the ESS Round 6 in Poland.
Mrs Teresa Zmijewska-jedrzejczyk (Polish Academy of Sciences)

When analysing data from longitudinal, cross-national surveys one must be aware of country-level differences. A particular part of context data consists of events such as financial crises, public affairs or political scandals. Events might differently influence individual opinions among countries. In ESS Round 6, a new method to measure the context on the country level was implemented. The experience of Poland raised the question whether the criteria used to select events were valid. Based on a follow-up survey conducted just after ESS Round 6, I will discuss limitations of the design and operationalisation of this method.

3. Left and Right Political Orientation in Eastern and Western Europe: Does it Have the same Meaning?
Mr Adrian Wojcik (University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland & Laboratory for Comparative Social Research, Moscow, Russia)
Dr Aleksandra Cislak (University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland)
Professor Peter Schmidt (University of Giessen, Germany)

The left-right ideological opposition is one of the most important distinctions that organizes the political scene. Usually left-wing orientation is defined as support for social change and rejection of social and economical inequalities. We systematically examine the relations between political auto-identification of citizens of Eastern and Western Europe, their support for economical redistribution and social change using the EVS dataset. These results show that the underpinnings of political orientation differ between Eastern and Western Europe. While in Western European countries the understanding of left-right political distinction is coherent, in Eastern Europe there is no consensus.