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Chancellor’s Fellow (Social Policy), University of Edinburgh

I am interested in different understandings of well-being, in particular contrasting micro-economic conceptions of (objective) utility with subjective conceptions of well-being. The aim is to better understand how different groups of people define well-being differently in the first place and what factors then contribute to this particular understanding of well-being. I am most interested in assessing how country-level factors (economic, demographic and cultural) moderate the relationships of certain individual-level factors and personal well-being. Applications include the contextualisation of the effects of religiosity and unemployment on life-satisfaction. I use social capital concepts to operationalise differences in people's personal contexts to better understand their embeddedness in particular networks.

Political participation and political culture: My research on political participation engages with the relationship between different forms of political engagement (both traditional and more recent types) and political attitudes with a particular interest in younger people's perspectives. I use conceptualisations based on social capital to operationalise the extent and composition of associational membership patterns of people and relate this to their attitudinal orientations. In the context of the financial crisis in Europe I am very much interested in the similarities and differences in political culture across member states of the European Union. Recent work of mine seeks to explore those patterns to contribute to discussions about the feasibility of political union in a bottom-up perspective.

Currently I dedicate a substantial amount of my work in this field to researching attitudes of adults and adolescents regarding the referendum on Scotland's constitutional future to be held in September 2014. Please see below for current project work on this topic.

Survey methodology and innovative methods teaching: I am an active member of the quantitative methods group fo the School of Social and Political Science and engaged in a wide number of activities. Details about the group can be found here. I also contribute to Edinburgh's Q-Step centre for teaching innovation in quantitative methods, details for which can be found here. With regards to quantitative methods I mainly use multilevel and structural equation modelling, mainly in comparative contexts. In addition I also have an interest in focus group analyses.

Current grants held

Young persons’ attitudes on Scotland’s Constitutional Future (PI): ESRC-funded project (£ 125,000 FEC) to develop a follow-up questionnaire to the 2013 survey to investigate the political attitudes of first time voters in the context of a lowered voting age to 16 (together with Lindsay Paterson, John MacInnes and Michael Rosie)

Understanding views on Scottish Independence using the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2014 (PI): ESRC-funded project (£ 91,000 FEC) to develop a questionnaire module for the 2014 SSA relating to the referendum on Scotland's constitutional future in September 2014 (together with John Curtice, Lindsay Paterson and Susan Reid)

Good Lives And Decent Societies (GLADS) Knowledge Exchange Programme (Co-I): Scottish Universities Insight Institute funded series of knowledge exchange events (£ 17,000) designed to inform the work of policy makers and third sector practitioners regarding indicators for the measurement of well-being (together with Elke Heins and Neil Thin at the University of Edinburgh and a range of external partners). Details can be found here.

Previous grants held
Young persons' attitudes on Scottish Independence - A survey analysis of 14-17 year olds (Co-I): ESRC-funded project (£ 183,000 FEC) with Lindsay Paterson, John MacInnes and Michael Rosie

Results from the survey are available here.

Understanding views on Scottish Independence - An extension of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (Co-I): ESRC-funded project (£ 197,000 FEC) with Lindsay Paterson, John Curtice and Rachel Ormston

Results from the work can be obtained here.

Showcasing Scottish datasets (Co-I): ESRC-funded knowledge exchange and training project (£ 126,000 FEC) with John MacInnes and Susan McVie

Lehren Lecturer Grant for research-led teaching: Project funded by the Lehren Initiative (Euros 6,600 FEC) for a collaboration with Jacobs University Bremen

I have (co-/)convened the following courses at the University of Edinburgh:

Globalization (Honours and MSc - Social and Political Science)
Quantitative Information and Analysis for Service Improvement (MSc - Health and Social Science)
Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Public Policy Analysis (MPP - Academy of Government)
Fast Track Quantitative Methods (MRes, PhD - AQMeN)
I have further taught modules on the following courses:

Sociology 1B (1st year - Social and Political Science)
Core Quantitative Data Analysis (MRes, PhD - Social and Political Science)
Statistics for Business (executive MBA - Business School)
International Dimensions of Public Policy (MPP - Academy of Government)
I feel very grateful for having been awarded the EUSA (Edinburgh University Students' Association) teaching award for "Teaching with Technology" 2013.

Recent Publications
Eichhorn, Jan. 2013. The (Non-)Effect of Unemployment Benefits - Variations in the effect of unemployment on life-satisfaction between EU countries. Social Indicators Research Online First: doi: 10.1007/s11205-013-0474-9.

Eichhorn, Jan. 2013. Unemployment needs context: How societal differences between countries moderate the loss in life-satisfaction for the unemployed. Journal of Happiness Studies 14(6): 1657-1680.

Hensing, Jakob, Hübner, Christine & Eichhorn, Jan. 2013. Make it or break it: what is civil society’s role in European democracy after the financial crisis? Open Citizenship 4(1).

Eichhorn, Jan. 2012. Happiness for Believers. Contextualising the Effects of Religiosity on Life-Satisfaction. European Sociological Review. 28(5):583-593.

Eichhorn, Jan. 2012. Context matters: The effect of national-level factors on the relationship between socio-demographic characteristics of individuals on their life-satisfaction. World Values Research 5(2): 27-48.

Other professional activities
Co-founder and director of research at the think tank d|part aiming to connect academic research and practitioners' work on political participation - d|part Website

Member of the editorial advisory board of Scottish Affairs - Scottish Affairs Website

Member of the Training Development Group of the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN)

Member of the governing board of the Jacobs Alumni and Friends gGmbH


  • –present
    Chancellor’s Fellow (Social Policy), University of Edinburgh