Age and political participation in Germany, France and the UK: A comparative analysis

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Series Details Vol.12, No.1, January 2014 p33–53
Publication Date January 2014
ISSN 1472-4790
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In this article, we evaluate the relationship between age and three types of political participation: voting, demonstrating and signing petitions. Our comparative analysis of individual-level data from the three largest European countries – Germany, France and the United Kingdom – reveals three interesting findings. First, we find that younger generations are less likely to vote than their older counterparts. Second, our results indicate that those trends are reversed for unconventional participation. Individuals born between the late 1970s and early 1990s are significantly more likely to engage in forms of direct action, such as demonstrations and petitions. This suggests we are experiencing changing patterns of participation for young adults, rather than declining civic engagement. Third, we discover that the relationship between age and various forms of political engagement is frequently not linear. While some forms of political involvement are strongest among the elderly (that is voting), other types are more pronounced among individuals between the ages of 34 and 65 (that is signing petitions) or the young (that is participation in demonstrations).

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