English title: Life-cycle and political participation: Do young people participate differently due to the life stage in which they are?

Author(s): Gema M. Garcia Albacete -

Language: English

Type: Report, working paper

Year: 2013


In the last decade, young people have been seen as the major suspects behind declining turnout rates, the desertion of parties' grass roots members, a rising anti-party sentiment and the decline of associative life in Western democracies. But young people have always participated differently than adults. The general and classical assumption in political behavior is that young people participate less politically because of the life stage in which they are. The interest, resources, and networks necessary to overcome the costs of participation come with adults' roles and responsibilities. However, a direct test of this widespread assumption does not confirm the expectation. On the contrary, acquiring adult roles has an overall negative impact on political participation in many European countries. To better understand the relationship between the transition to adulthood and political participation this paper proposes and tests the argument that the transition to adulthood requires some time to bring along those participatory factors, particularly at the beginning of the twenty-first century. A longitudinal comparative study across Europe is conducted paying particular attention to the construction of empirical tools that allow the comparison of the transition to adulthood and participation in an equivalent way across time, gender and countries. Results shed new light in how the life-cycle hypothesis actually works.

Edition: 0

Institution: Universidad Autonoma de Madrid

Number of pages: 36

Number: 146

Series: Working Papers Online Series

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