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Does voting rights affect the political maturity of 16- and 17-year-olds? Findings from the 2011 Norwegian voting-age trial

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Abstract

A key question in an ongoing debate about voting age is whether people below the age of 18 are politically mature enough to take part in elections. Previous research indicate that 16- and 17-year-olds are not as mature as other voters when the voting age is at 18 (Chan and Clayton, 2006), but that such age-differences are evened out when 16-year olds are given the right to vote (Wagner et al., 2012).This paper tests that hypothesis by utilizing data from a Norwegian trial in which the voting age was lowered from 18 to 16 in some municipalities. The results are that there is a significant gap in maturity between 16- and 17- year olds and older voters. There is no evidence to indicate that adolescent maturity levels go up when the voting age is lowered.

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... In this article, we investigate the link between social attitudes and vote choice among adolescents for three political parties with a clear-cut profile. We embed this research question in the general debate on voting age, as one of the main arguments against allowing young people to vote is the remained inability of this age group to vote for a party which resembles their own preferences (Bergh, 2013). As such, we can provide a theoretical contribution to the literature on political maturity and voting age. ...
... Opponents of lowering the voting age argue that including adolescents in the electorate will lower the quality of democratic decisions and, as a consequence, the input legitimacy of the democratic system (Chan and Clayton, 2006). To achieve this input legitimacy, citizens are required to cast reasoned and motivated votes that are linked to their political and social attitudes (Bergh, 2013;. In this debate on voting age, a consistent link between attitudes and vote choice has been employed as an indicator of 'political maturity', a concept that has been put forward by the UK electoral commission as one of the fundamental issues in determining the appropriate vote age (Electoral Commission, 2004). ...
... Chan and Clayton (2006), for instance, use political interest, party identification, political knowledge, attitude stability and attitudinal consistency to make judgments on the level of political maturity of adolescents, claiming that these measures indicate the willingness and ability to participate in politics. Bergh (2013) defines political maturity as 'a set of qualities or tools that are useful when getting involved in politics' (p. 3) and uses measures of political interest, political efficacy, attitudinal strength and consistency between attitudes and vote choice as indicators for the concept. Hart and Atkins (2010) even include neurological maturation to demonstrate the capacities of sixteen-year-olds to vote. ...
Article
Research on the political development of adolescents is mainly focused on political engagement and attitudes. The more complex relationship between attitudes and voting behavior is less studied among citizens under the legal voting age. We investigate whether there is a link between social attitudes and voting propensities among Flemish adolescents, using data from the Parent–Child Socialization Study 2012. We observe attitude-vote consistency for three Flemish parties with a clear-cut ideological profile – the Green, radical rightist and Flemish Nationalist party. Findings show that adolescents' attitude-vote consistency is reinforced by their level of political sophistication. The correspondence between social attitudes and vote choice, however, is not impressive and significantly lower than among experienced adults, leaving room for other influential factors.
... Alle in Tabelle 1 beschriebenen Absenkungen des Wahlalters erfolgten ‚bedingungslos' in dem Sinn, dass die Wahlrechtsabsenkung nicht von empirischen Variablen, etwa den Parteienpräferenzen der Neuwähler oder der Wahlbeteiligung, abhängig gemacht wurde. Norwegen hat hingegen im September 2011 bei Kommunalwahlen das Wahlalter von 18 auf 16 Jahre gesenkt -aber nur in 21 von 430 Gemeinden (Bergh 2013). Der so genannte "Norwegian 2011 voting-age trial" hatte das Ziel, die politische Reife der jungen Norweger und Norwegerinnen zu testen -und dann zu entscheiden, ob das Wahlalter bei Kommunalwahlen generell von 18 auf 16 Jahre gesenkt wird. ...
... Diese (Chan und Clayton 2006). Ergebnisse einer Untersuchung zur probeweisen Wahlaltersenkung in Norwegen fallen in Bezug auf die politischen Reife der 16-und 17-Jährigen tatsächlich negativ aus (Bergh 2013). ...
... In der wissenschaftlichen Debatte werden dafür verschiedene Indikatoren herangezogen, allen voran politisches Wissen, aber auch die Selbsteinschätzung des politischen Wissens(Kaid et al. 2007), wobei das faktische und das eingeschätzte Wissen nicht notwendigerweise übereinstimmen müssen. Darüber hinaus sind auch politisches Interesse oder die politische Selbstwirksamkeit von Bedeutung(Bergh 2013; Hart und Atkins 2011;Torney-Purta et al. 2008; Electoral Commission 2004). Wer ausreichend informiert und interessiert ist, wer der Meinung ist, dass politische Beteiligung Sinn macht und etwas bewirken kann, wird auch bereit sein, an Wahlen teilzunehmen und eine gut informierte Entscheidung treffen können. ...
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Der Band versammelt Beiträge, die sich aus empirischer und normativer Sicht mit den Formen und Bedingungen der politischen Partizipation junger Menschen beschäftigen. Neben einführenden und systematisierenden Beiträgen behandelt der Band die Themenfelder Wahlrecht für Minderjährige, Internetbeteiligung/E-Partizipation junger Menschen, Jugendquoten sowie aktuelle Fallstudien zur politischen Beteiligung junger Menschen in Baden-Württemberg. Die Beiträge des interdisziplinär angelegten Bandes wurden etwa zur Hälfte von erfahrenen Expertinnen und Experten aus Wissenschaft und Praxis, zur Hälfte von Studierenden der Universität Tübingen beigesteuert. Der Inhalt Einführende und systematische Beiträge: Jugend und politische Partizipation, Jugendproteste, politische Bildung, vorpolitische Beteiligung • Perspektiven: Wahlrecht unter 18, Jugend- und Nachwuchsquoten, Jugendbeteiligung im Internet • Fallstudien: Jugendbeteiligung in Baden-Württemberg Die Zielgruppen Studierende, Lehrende, Wissenschaftler der Politikwissenschaft und Politikdidaktik • Praktiker im Bereich der politischen Bildung Die Herausgeber Dr. Dr. Jörg Tremmel ist Juniorprofessor für Generationengerechte Politik am Institut für Politikwissenschaft der Universität Tübingen. Markus Rutsche ist wissenschaftlicher Assistent an der Universität St. Gallen (HSG) und Mitarbeiter am Tübinger Arbeitsbereich für Generationengerechte Politik.
... The arguments against foremost cover such concerns as the lack of political maturity, political interest and political knowledge of young voters which might lead to an uninformed vote choice (e.g. Bergh, 2013;Chan & Clayton, 2006;Electoral Commission, 2002, 2004Hofer et al., 2008). Political maturation is assumed to increase when people grow older. ...
... "Trial elections" that were held in Norwegian municipalities confirmed that turnout of 16-and 17-year-old enfranchised people was lower than overall turnout but higher than turnout of older first-time voters, which confirms Franklin's assumption. However, these findings do not necessarily apply to "real" elections, primarily because the municipalities participating in the trial elections volunteered to do so and were described as municipalities that were particularly engaged in youth politics (Bergh, 2013). ...
... Second, Franklin's (2004) conjecture proved to be correct: electoral turnout of 16-and 17-year-olds was significantly higher than turnout of older first-time voters (18 to 20). Our study thus extends previous findings from Norwegian trial elections (Bergh, 2013) to a case study of "real" elections for a country having a general voting age of 16. ...
Article
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Potential consequences of lowering voting age to 16 have been discussed in recent scientific and public debates. This article examines turnout of young voters aged 16 to 17 in Austria, the first European country that lowered the general voting age to 16. For this purpose we use unique data taken from electoral lists of two recent Austrian regional elections. The results support the idea that the so-called “first-time voting boost” is even stronger among the youngest voters as turnout was (a) higher compared to 18- to 20-year-old first-time voters and (b) not substantially lower than the average turnout rate. We conclude that our findings are encouraging for the idea of lowering voting age as a means to establish higher turnout rates in the future.
... In addition, experts have expressed a fear that a youth franchise might exacerbate a 'democratic deficit' by increasing the proportion of non-voters. The first concern is based on the view that under-18s lack political interest and maturity and so cannot be relied on to vote intelligently, knowledgeably and appropriately (Chan and Clayton, 2006;Bergh, 2013, Electoral Commission, 2002. The second worry comes from viewing a call for 'votes at 16' as missing the broader problem of widespread political disengagement and non-voting (Mycock and Tonge, 2015). ...
... Austria has lowered the voting age threshold to 16 in national elections, matching Cuba, Brazil, Guernsey, Isle of Man and Jersey. UK political parties, academics, youth experts and young people remain divided on the issue, despite research from Austria and scotland having pointed to the experiences as positive (Wagner et al., 2012;Bergh, 2013;Eichorn, 2015). In England, the closest equivalent youth voting opportunities are the annual elections of Young Mayors. ...
... The turnout for 16 and 17-year-olds was 58 per cent compared to 18-21 year olds at 46 per cent (Ødegård et al, 2014). despite this, under-18s in these elections did not have a higher turnout than first time voters in the 2013 national elections (ibid; Bergh, 2013). What did appear to be significant, was the level of information about procedures and voting options -those municipalities that provided plenty of information had a higher turnout than those that did not.. ...
Article
When we consider young people’s participation in democratic societies, we have to ask to what extent young people are or should be representative of the communities they are active within. This paper is based on findings from a participatory research project which examined young people’s perspectives on taking part in Comhairle na nÓg, the local youth councils in Ireland. The article considers how differing understandings of the concept of representation may impact on the experiences, provision and structures of participatory initiatives for young people. The findings reveal differing attitudes between youth participants and adult support staff towards the meaning of representation. Many of the adult personnel refer to representation in terms of accessing and retaining younger age-groups and “seldom heard” young people, while significant numbers of youth respondents indicated that they understand representation as having a voice, being heard, and making a difference, rather than necessarily about representativeness and they view themselves as being representative of other young people.
... However, these studies have failed to address the relevant counterfactual, which is how politically mature 16-17 year-olds would be if they had the right to vote. Recent studies from Scotland, Austria, and Norway -where voting at 16 has already been implemented -are in a better position to address this (Bergh, 2013;Eichhorn, 2017;Wagner et al., 2012;Zeglovits, 2013). However, the results have so far been inconclusive and credible causal conclusions have not been possible, as these studies primarily rely on simple cross-sectional or before-and-after research designs. ...
... Furthermore, their null results may be due to the small sample size (n = 263 for 16-25 year-olds). Bergh (2013) uses data from the 2011 Norwegian voting age trial and finds no evidence that enfranchising 16-year olds improves their political knowledge, interest or efficacy. However, Norwegian municipalities needed to apply to participate in the trial, and only 20 were selected by the government -in part because they pursued active youth policies -so the results may suffer from selection bias. ...
... Interest in politics is perhaps one of the most frequently used proxy measure of political maturity. Political interest is typically operationalised using a single survey item, which asks respondents to indicate on a 4-or 5-point response scale how interested in politics they are generally speaking (Aichholzer and Kritzinger, 2020;Bergh, 2013;Chan and Clayton, 2006;Eichhorn, 2014;Hart and Atkins, 2011;Leininger and Faas, 2020;Mahéo and Bélanger, 2020;McAllister, 2014;Stiers, Hooghe and Dassonneville, 2020;Wagner et al., 2012;Zeglovits and Zandonella, 2013). ...
Thesis
Political science has long sought to understand how citizens form their political identities, values and behaviours. However, robust causal evidence on how policy interventions can shape the political socialisation process remains limited. The three papers that make up this thesis investigate how citizens - and young citizens in particular - change their political attitudes and behaviours in response to large-scale policy interventions, specifically: income transparency, enfranchisement and compulsory voting. In the first paper, I take advantage of a quasi-experiment in Finland to study whether income transparency - the public release of citizens’ income information - affects support for redistribution. Using survey data and a before-and-after research design, I show that income transparency leaves public support for redistribution largely unchanged, but that young people increase their support for redistribution in response to the intervention. This suggests that redistributive preferences are rooted in more stable, underlying ideologies, that are difficult to alter once they are formed in early adulthood. In the second paper, I leverage a quasi-experiment in Germany to study whether enfranchisement improves citizens’ political maturity. Using survey data and a difference-indifferences approach, I show that enfranchising 16-year-olds can equalise prior differences in political maturity between underage and adult youth. This suggests that political maturity should be understood not just as a precondition, but also as an outcome of the right to vote. In the third paper, I take advantage of a quasi-experiment in Brazil to investigate whether compulsory voting instils voting habits in young people. Using administrative data and a regression discontinuity design, I show that voting fails to be habit-forming when it is compulsory. This finding clarifies the scope conditions of prior research on voting habits, as it runs counter to available evidence from voluntary voting systems.
... Due to the application and selection process, it is very likely that the municipalities participating in the trial elections had implemented several activities to involve young people in social and political matters. At the most local level, 16-and 17-year-olds were given the right to vote (Bergh 2013). To sum up, Norwegian youth voters participated in trial elections in some selected municipalities, whereas the Austrian youth were fully enfranchised. ...
... Usually, political interest and political knowledge increase the chances of participation in an election. The Norwegian results find a significant gap in the political interest of 16-17-year-olds compared to older first-time voters in the trial elections (Bergh 2013), supporting the idea that political interest is a matter of age. However, the Austrian results are quite different. ...
... Here, the findings are quite consistent: as assumed by supporters of youth suffrage, the turn-out of 16-and 17-year-olds was substantially higher than that of older first-time voters aged 18-21 in two regional elections analysed in Austria (Zeglovits and Aichholzer forthcoming). The same pattern was found in the Norwegian trial elections (Bergh 2013). The gap between 16-and 17-year-olds and older first-time voters was quite impressive, 8-10 percentage points in Austria, 12 percentage points in Norway. ...
Article
In the debate on lowering the voting age, possible consequences have been discussed, among which are turn-out and the quality of the vote choice of newly enfranchised teenagers. Although findings on the turn-out of 16- and 17-year-olds are encouraging to supporters of youth suffrage, the results on political maturity are somewhat mixed. Most results stem from the case of Austria, where the voting age was lowered to 16 in 2007. They are supplemented with results of the Norwegian Voting Age Trial.
... Hence, empirical evidence directly investigating the level of political maturity among enfranchised citizens younger than 18 is not numerous. Still, some studies such as Chang and Clayton (2006), Bergh (2013), Zeglovitz (2013) and McAllister (2014) have investigated political maturity. Regardless of country and political context, the debate on the level of political maturity among younger voters, as well as young citizens not enjoying the right to vote is by large characterized by the same line of arguments. ...
... However, findings from Austria (the first and only European country that has actually lowered the voting age permanently to 16), show that the newly enfranchised voters aged 16 and 17 are no less politically mature than voters aged 18 or older (see for example Filzmaier and Klepp 2009;). The most important study investigating the level of political maturity among the enfranchised 16-and 17-year olds as well as voters aged just above 18 in the Norwegian trial is Bergh (2013). He studies the level of political maturity within four age groups; the enfranchised 16-and 17-year-olds in the trial municipalities, the 16-and 17-year-olds in non-trial municipalities who did not have the right to vote, 18-year-olds in trial municipalities and lastly 18-year-olds in non-trial municipalities. ...
... However, all other findings from Bergh (2013) indicate that younger citizens are less politically mature than older citizens; at least when comparing voters aged 16-17 to voters aged 18. He finds that voters aged 18, compared to voters aged 16-17, are more interested in politics, that they have a higher degree of both internal and external political knowledge, and that they have larger constraints in their political attitude formation (indicating more consistent sets of attitudes). ...
Chapter
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Children are considered not to be full members of society and that their participation should be limited. Further, this limitation is imposed by adults. In order to counter these attitudes, it is key to afford space for children’s voices and that this is facilitated in some way. Philosophy with Children, in all its variety of approaches and practices, lays claim to being a tool that allows children to develop the skills necessary for citizenship, such as participation and airing their views. This section focuses on the role of Community of Philosophical Inquiry (CoPI), a specific method of practical Philosophy with Children, to empower children and give them a voice. CoPI has a series of distinctive features that makes it especially apt in meeting this goal. Children are able to articulate their views on a particular topic and this is supported by the structure of the dialogue itself. In addition, their statements must build on previous statements by demonstrating dis/agreement and the participants must provide reasons to justify that dis/agreement. The method thereby emphasizes the primacy of the children’s thinking and the facilitator works to juxtapose speakers in order to drive the dialogue further philosophically. In this article, these features of CoPI are illustrated by examples from dialogues on the Good Life, stimulated by the question ‘What kind of society would you like to live in?' CoPI is shown to give children voice with a view to promoting their participation in society while also eschewing the imbalance in the adult/child power relationship as questions regarding the good life ultimately invite us to reconsider our views of children.
... But given the lack of clear evidence on the positive effects of such a reform, many countries like Canada and the UK are still weighing the value of this institutional change (Canada, 2016;Eichhorn and Mycock, 2015;United Kingdom, 2003). Proponents of this reform argue that allowing the 16and 17-year-olds to vote for the first time while they are still in school and living at home with their parents could have long-term positive effects on turnout (Bergh, 2013;Franklin, 2004;Zeglovits, 2013). However, critics point out that underage youth are not politically "mature" enough to take part in elections, and consequently, the quality of electoral participation and political representation could be hindered (Chan and Clayton, 2006). ...
... Austria is the only Western country that has lowered the voting age to 16 for all elections, since 2007. 1 Alternatively, in Norway, 16-and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote in 'trial elections' in 20 municipalities in 2011; in Germany, since the 1990s, a few states have allowed 16-to 17-year-olds to vote in municipal or state elections; and in Scotland, 16-and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote in the 2014 independence referendum. In all these cases, the evidence is consistent: when offered the possibility to vote, 16-and 17-year-olds turn out at rates as high or higher than 18-to 20-year-olds (Aichholzer and Kritzinger, 2020;Bergh, 2013;Eichhorn, 2018;Leininger and Faas, 2020;Odegard et al., 2020;Zeglovits, 2013). But most importantly, part of Franklin's (2004Franklin's ( , 2020 argument was confirmed in these cases, where turnout was immediately higher among the 16-and 17-year-old first time voters, compared to that of older first time voters who were 18-to 20-years-old (Bergh, 2013;Eichhorn, 2018;Zeglovits and Aichholzer, 2014). ...
... In all these cases, the evidence is consistent: when offered the possibility to vote, 16-and 17-year-olds turn out at rates as high or higher than 18-to 20-year-olds (Aichholzer and Kritzinger, 2020;Bergh, 2013;Eichhorn, 2018;Leininger and Faas, 2020;Odegard et al., 2020;Zeglovits, 2013). But most importantly, part of Franklin's (2004Franklin's ( , 2020 argument was confirmed in these cases, where turnout was immediately higher among the 16-and 17-year-old first time voters, compared to that of older first time voters who were 18-to 20-years-old (Bergh, 2013;Eichhorn, 2018;Zeglovits and Aichholzer, 2014). ...
Article
One reform considered for increasing voter turnout rates is to lower the voting age to 16 years old. Advocates of such a reform argue that young people would vote for the first time while they are still in school and living with their parents, which would provide a social context that is supportive of their electoral participation. However, opponents argue that 16- and 17-year-olds are not mature enough to take part in elections. Using data from a 2018 Quebec election survey that included a subsample of individuals aged 16 and 17, this study provides mixed evidence for both arguments.
... Following the reduction of the voting age to 16 in Austria, participation rates among 16-and 17-year-olds were comparable to those of the electorate at large, with turnout decreasing across the 16 -20 age bracket (Zeglovits and Aichholzer, 2014). In an experiment that reduced the voting age in local elections to 16 in selected Norwegian municipalities, turnout among 16-and 17-year-olds was higher than is generally the case for first-time voters (Bergh, 2013), and there is similar evidence from German Laender (Council of Europe, 2011, p. 6). In the first elections on the Isle of Man with a reduced voting age, 57.6% of the registered youth electorate voted (although only approximately one-third of eligible 16-and 17-year-olds were entered on the electoral register due to administrative shortcomings which were identified following a formal inquiry; Wright, 2007). ...
... However, not all the evidence points in a positive direction. Analysing the abovementioned trial that introduced voting at 16 in selected Norwegian municipalities, Bergh (2013) found low rates of political maturity among 16-and 17-year-olds, even after they had been enfranchised. It is possible that the varying findings between the Austrian and Norwegian cases can be accounted for by the fact that in Norway 3 Similar to the UK, electoral registration is effectively compulsory on the Isle of Man, in the sense that citizens are legally required to provide the information requested of them by election registration officials. ...
Article
Britain has a long and often celebrated history of progressively expanding the electoral franchise. In recent years, the idea has been advanced to allow 16-year-olds to vote in general elections. This article uses data from a July 2013 national survey to examine public attitudes on this topic. These data show that less than one person in six favours lowering the voting age, with a large majority preferring the status quo. Younger—but not the youngest—people, men, working class and lower income persons, self-identified members of the ethnic majority and Scots tend to be most favourably disposed towards lowering the voting age. Multivariate analyses confirm these socio-demographic relationships and demonstrate that views about reducing the voting age covary in theoretically expected ways with several attitudinal variables prominent in the literature on voting, political participation and support for democratic political systems. Although statistically significant, none of the relationships of interest is especially strong. Thus, an effort to lower the age of majority would lack widespread popularity and be only weakly leveraged by the demographics of the British electorate. If franchise change occurs, it likely will be the result of an elite-driven project that succeeds because of widespread public indifference.
... As in many European countries, voting age had become a hotly debated issue in Norway. The voting age debate-in Norway as in other countries-centers on a few key themes, including the political knowledge and "political maturity" of 16-and 17-year olds (Bergh, 2013a;Chan & Clayton, 2006;, and the potential legal or constitutional hurdles that have to be overcome (Electoral Commission, 2004;Milner, 2010;Ødegård & Aars, 2011). The center-left government that held office in Norway from 2005 until 2013 had people within its ranks that favored a lower voting age. ...
... The ministry in charge of the trial also looked for municipalities that had actively tried to get their youths involved in the community in various ways. This criterion did not aim for representativeness, and there is some evidence of slightly more political interest and involvement among youth in the trial municipalities than in the rest of the country (Bergh, 2013a). In the local elections that took place four years later, in 2015, a new trial was held in 20 municipalities-including 10 participants from the 2011 trial and 10 newcomers. ...
Chapter
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A common feature of debates about lowering the voting age to 16 has been an absence of analytical research which might explain the historical or contemporary policy drivers for voting age reform or its potential effects. This chapter provides the first such attempt to fill this gap in the literature, establishing and then applying a thematic analytical framework to explain the drivers of voting age reform. It advances a thesis that there are at least four thematic models that we can apply to enhance our understanding of the policy origins, justifications, and impacts associated with reforming the age of enfranchisement. The chapter applies these models to understand policy drivers informing voting age reform in the UK over the past 50 years or so. The chapter concludes that voting age reform in the late 1960s and early 21st century draws on the same policy drivers but they differ in their context and importance.
... A second main contribution of this article to the current literature on the development of stable party preferences is that not only structural determinants, but also the importance of issue preferences and social attitudes are taken into account. Recent studies have shown that, to some extent, adolescents are able to match their own political attitudes to a party preference (Bergh, 2013;Wagner et al., 2012;Wattenberg, 2008). We build further on these studies by examining the way in which this attitude-vote consistency relates to vote stability. ...
... Nonetheless, in the bulk of political socialization studies, a party preference is handled 'as such', without taking into account the attitudes and issues that could shape this preference among adolescent voters as well (Jennings and Niemi, 1981;Kroh and Selb, 2009;Nieuwbeerta and Wittebrood, 1995;Zuckerman et al., 2007). Recent studies have confirmed the importance of investigating their own issue preferences and political attitudes, as adolescents are indeed able to link their own political attitudes to a party preference (Bergh, 2013;Wagner et al., 2012;Wattenberg, 2008). Although these political attitudes can be learned through processes of socialization as well, we hypothesize that stability of party preferences will be stronger when the party preference itself is based on one's own attitudes and preferences. ...
Article
This article investigates to what extent party preferences learned during adolescence are stable over time. Using a recently administered two-wave panel survey among 15- and 16-year-old adolescents and their parents in Belgium (Parent–Child Socialization Study, 2012–13), we find that more than 50 per cent of the adolescents intends to vote for exactly the same party in both waves. The data suggest that the traditional explanations for this stability that apply for adult voters do not apply for younger adolescents. The strength of one’s party preference and the consistency between attitudes and a vote choice do play a role in explaining party preference stability in this age group, but the main explanation can be found in the correspondence with one’s parents. Adolescents who have the same party preference as their parents, are far more likely to have a stable preference than those who formed their initial preference independently.
... Therefore, critics argue, it would most likely just result in (i) a low turnout and (ii) a replication of their parents' voting behaviour. Experiments from Norway, in which young people in some local communities were given the right to vote in local elections, while others were not, suggested that there was no discernible positive effect on political attitudes for those who could take part (Bergh 2013). We also know that young people are less likely to associate themselves with a particular political party and that they often display lower levels of identification with traditional actors in the political system (Chan and Clayton 2006, 545), resulting in lower levels of knowledge about the system and its actors. ...
... It is not common to find such occurrences. The experimental example from Norway mentioned earlier (Bergh 2013), which had no positive effects of lowered voting ages, can only act in a limited fashion as a marker, as it did not actually create a situation in which young people were enfranchised legally, but where they effectively participated, knowingly, in an experiment which changes the framework substantially. ...
Article
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This paper explores the experience of 16–17 year olds participating in the Scottish independence referendum and discusses whether it can be seen as positive or negative considering civic attitudes and participation. Using data from two comprehensive and representative surveys of 14–17 year olds, it engages empirically with claims about young people's alleged political (dis-)interest and provides qualifications for commonly believed stories of young people as mere recipients of information given to them by parents and teachers. The paper develops a positive view of young people's engagement in the referendum process and suggests that inputs from parents and schools actually have distinguishable effects on young people, who do not simply ‘follow the lead’ of others uncritically. The analyses suggest that the discussion of political issues in the classroom (rather than the simple delivery of civics-style classes per se) may act as a positive factor in the political socialisation of young people, but suggests that further research is required to examine these effects beyond the specific context of the Scottish independence referendum in particular in relation to questions about whether reducing the voting age to 16 could be expected to generally lead to positive outcomes.
... A number of studies have shown that the first part of Franklin's (2004) argument holds water; that 16-and 17-year-olds have higher rates of turnout as first time voters, when given the chance to vote, than 18-and 19-year-olds (Bergh, 2013;Zeglovits and Aichholzer, 2014;Aichholzer and Kritzinger, 2020;Huebner and Eichhorn, 2020;Ødegård et al., 2020). In a new publication, Franklin (2020) takes up the second part of the argument that a lower voting age will over time, due to generational replacement, lead to higher aggregate rates of turnout. ...
... Some young people in a selection of municipalities were allowed to vote at 16 and could be compared to young people in municipalities where the voting age was maintained at 18. While some positive effects, similar to those found in other countries, were observable (Ødegård et al., 2020), efficacy and political interest in general were not seen to rise in all investigations (Bergh, 2013). ...
Article
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Research into the possible consequences of lowering the voting age to 16 used to be rather speculative in nature, as there were few countries that had implemented earlier enfranchisement. This has changed over the past decade. We now have a range of countries in different locations, mostly in Europe and South America, where 16- and 17-year-olds can vote in some or all elections. In many of those places empirical research has given us insights into the experiences of young people and the impact of those changes on political discussions. However, so far these studies have largely been conducted individually in each country, which makes comparisons difficult. This article summarises the key insights from empirical research across countries with lower voting ages. It identifies common patterns, but also highlights differences. Overall, the impact appears to not be negative and often positive in terms of political engagement and civic attitudes. However, the comprehensiveness of effects varies. The article offers some possible frameworks to understand differences, in particular by reflecting on the processes that led to voting franchise changes, but also indicates where gaps in knowledge remain, and what sort of research would be required to produce systematically comparable results.
... Electoral Reform Society o.J.; Jusos 2011; Kercher 2011) als auch in der einschlägigen wissenschaftlichen Literatur (z.B. Chan/Clayton 2006;Steinberg et al. 2009;Hart/Atkins 2011;Wagner et al. 2012;Bergh 2013;Zeglovits/ Aichholzer 2014;Kritzinger/Zeglovits 2016;Merry/Schinkel 2016) die Frage im Raum, ob eine Wahlaltersenkung auf 16 Jahre ein geeignetes Mittel ist, dem zu begegnen. Einer der zentralen Punkte, die in diesem Zusammenhang diskutiert werden, ist, ob BürgerInnen unter 18 Jahren "reif" genug sind, sich an Wahlen zu beteiligen. ...
... z.B. Chan/Clayton 2006;Wagner et al. 2012;Bergh 2013;Glantschnigg et al. 2013;Kritzinger/Zeglovits 2016). Der vorliegende Beitrag knüpft an diese Diskussion an und fragt nach Unterschieden zwischen dem politischen Wissen der Unter-18-Jährigen und dem der älteren BürgerInnen. ...
Article
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This article aims at exploring differences in the level and structure of political knowledge among citizens under the age of 18 and older segments of the population. It focuses on Austria, a country where the voting age in national elections was lowered to 16 in 2007. Drawing on data by the Austrian National Election Study (AUTNES), it is shown that 16 and 17 year olds know comparatively little about political actors and the Austrian parties’ positions, but that they are nevertheless mature enough to take part in elections. Moreover, regarding citizens’ political knowledge, Austrians are rather specialists than generalists, which is independent of the age group. The results have important implications, in particular for the political education of adolescents.
... In many countries, including Denmark, there is an ongoing debate as to whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 or 17 years, and some countries have already done this in either some or all elections (Zeglovits and Zandonella 2013;Bergh 2013;Larsen, Levinsen, and Kjaer 2016). One prominent argument for lowering the voting age is that it will ensure that more young voters enter the electorate while they still live at home, in which case their parents can introduce them to voting (Franklin 2004). ...
Article
Scholars have argued that children affect their parents’ political behavior, including turnout, through so-called trickle-up socialization. However, there is only limited causal evidence for this claim. Using a regression discontinuity design on a rich dataset, with validated turnout from subsets of Danish municipalities in four elections, I causally identify the effect of parenting a recently enfranchised voter. I consistently find that parents are more likely to vote when their child enters the electorate. On average across all four elections, I estimate that parents become 2.8 percentage points more likely to vote. In a context where the average turnout rate for parents is around 75%, this is a considerable effect. The effect is driven by parents whose children still live with them while there is no discernible effect for parents whose child has left home. The results are robust to a range of alternative specifications and placebo tests.
... Young people's trust in and knowledge of politics is low, but it is similar to that of older generations. Together with their lower level of political maturity, this does affect their willingness to participate in politics (Bergh 2013;Chan and Clayton 2006;Massing 2002;Quintelier 2007). Thus, finding the means by which young people's political maturity and knowledge increases may be an important step to increase more traditional political participation. ...
Article
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This study is focused on the democratic competencies and political participation of young people taking part in debate programs in seven “new” democracies – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania and Slovakia. The research employs conventional methods adopted from various established surveys for capturing the political attitudes and values of youths. Using a longitudinal research design, we compare results from debaters and their non-debating peers on three dimensions: political competence, democratic values and political participation. The results of the pre-tests indicate that debaters’ attitudes are more in accordance with what a democratic theory would expect from active and engaged citizens. Participating in debate activities did not reveal significant attitudinal improvements during the short timeframe of our research (one school year), but the initial differences between debaters and non-debaters remained stable over time.
... Evidence for the positive effects of lowering the voting age is mixed. (Bergh 2013;McAllister 2014;Wagner, Johann, and Kritzinger 2012;Zeglovits and Zandonella 2013). Some studies find that that lowering the voting age increases the maturity of the youngest voters (at the age of 16), while others do not find evidence for this. ...
Article
We investigate attitudes toward voting reforms that attribute greater weight to younger generations in a survey experiment. The main assumption of this research is that due to the distortions caused by elite discourse, voters are not aware of the intergenerational inequality of redistribution, thus attempts to change the voting system – that currently provides an equal vote to each voter, thereby maintaining inequality – would not get sufficient public support. After providing a review of potential voting reforms for improving intergenerational justice, we present results from an online survey sample of one thousand respondents. The data show that presenting the arguments for intergenerational justice increases the sensitivity of younger voters towards the political rights of young generations, but does not improve the acceptance of such reforms among the middle-aged and the elderly.
... During the 2011 Norwegian local elections, 21 out of 428 municipalities lowered the voting age to 16. A large-scale experiment examined, among other things, how voting rights affected 16-and 17-year-olds' political interest, political efficacy and attitudinal consistency (Bergh 2013;Godli 2015). The findings from Norway, as well as from Germany and Austria, are interesting because they are based on studies of real changes in the electorate. ...
Article
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Should 16-year-olds be entitled to participate in elections? We theorize that mock elections for adolescents, who are not eligible to vote, affect the short-term support among the general public for lowering the voting age. To test our theoretical expectation, we utilize variation among municipalities in the organization of mock elections during the Danish local elections in 2009. Difference-in-difference estimates with data from the subsequent local elections in 2013 demonstrate that citizens in municipalities with mock elections for adolescents were more supportive of lowering the voting age and that their support was strongly rooted in ideological differences.
... Diese Annahmen sind allerdings in der Debatte stark umstritten. Chan und Clayton (2006) und Bergh (2013) kommen in ihren Studien jeweils zu dem Schluss, dass Jugendliche in Großbritannien und Norwegen nicht den gleichen Grad politischer Reife aufweisen wie ihre Mitbürger über 18. Darüber hinaus haben sie herausgefunden, dass durch die Herabsetzung des Wahlrechtes auf 16 Jahre, die politische Reife der 16 bis 18-Jährigen nicht zunimmt. Dem gegenüber untersuchen Wagner, Johann und Kritzinger (2012) das Wahlverhalten von 16-bis 18-Jährigen in Österreich nach der Herabsetzung des Wahlalters auf 16 Jahre. ...
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Kindern, Jugendlichen und jungen Erwachsenen wird oft mangelndes politisches Interesse und Engagement vorgeworfen. Eine geringe Wahlbeteiligung bei den Jungwähler/innen wie auch bei anderen Beteiligungsangeboten der repräsentativen Demokratie wird konstatiert und eine Krise der Demokratie attestiert. Gleichzeitig werden im Rahmen der Digitalisierung neue Beteiligungskanäle geöffnet, die politische Öffentlichkeit neu definieren und insbesondere Jugendlichen offenstehen.
... The political voice of young citizens is substantially impacted by the formal exclusion of everyone aged under 18 from the franchise for Australian elections at all levels. Australia's voting eligibility age of 18 is aligned with the status quo in most other countries, although there have been trials and discussion of lowering the voting age in some jurisdictions (often at sub-national level) e.g., [49][50][51][52][53]. ...
Article
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Evidence suggests that, on average, younger citizens in advanced industrial democracies tend to have different policy preferences to those aged 65 and over. Population ageing and relatively lower levels of electoral participation among young people amplify the political voice of older citizens and contribute to policymakers being more responsive to their preferences. This paper presents qualitative evidence on whether young adults and older Australians recognise a need to increase young people’s influence on policymaking in the context of intergenerational inequality. The paper considers possible responses to this need, such as voting age reform. Results indicate that there is reasonable support, including from the older participants, to enhance young people’s political voice and influence over policymaking. Growing awareness of intergenerational inequality in ageing democracies may make public opinion more favourable towards voting age reform and other measures to increase the political voice of young people.
... Bergh (2013). ...
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With reference to the history of ideas, this contribution to democratic theory demonstrates how the notion of who belongs to the demos and is eligible to vote has changed since the beginnings of modern democratic thought, drawing on the implications of this analysis for voting age boundaries. That minors lack political maturity, it is demonstrated, is the most common argument against a lowering of the voting age. Yet this article illustrates that the exclusion of children and young people is epistocratic and, as such, contradicts democratic principles as they are today generally understood. Finally, it introduces an original model to overcome this problem, based on no voting age boundaries and a system of young voter registration.
... A common charge against lowering the voting age is that adolescents do not possess sufficient political competence and interest to be made eligible (cf. Bergh, 2013). Therefore, in this section, we look at adolescents' political interest and knowledge but also the internalization of norms as the latter might be indicative of whether respondents develop a habit of voting. ...
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In Germany, eleven of sixteen states have lowered the voting age for municipal elections or state and municipal elections from 18 to 16. This chapter describes the German case and provides evidence on the political consequences of these reforms. Using the so-called representative electoral statistics, the authors show that turnout among 16- to 20-year olds is higher than among citizens up to ten years older. Even though comparisons of turnout among 16- and 17-year olds with that among 18- and 19-year-olds remain inconclusive, the authors support a lowering of the voting age, because it would imply that more citizens experience their first election when 20 years or younger, which should be beneficial for higher turnout rates in the long run. As vote choices are concerned, there seems to be a slight tendency for younger voters to vote for left parties, in particular, the Greens, as well as smaller parties more generally, while the Christian Democratic CDU does worse. Germany’s political parties seem to be aware of this: Center-left governing coalitions passed almost all reforms in states where the voting age was regulated by state law rather than states where state constitutions had to be changed.
... An often used argument against lowering the voting age is that adolescents at this age lack the proper "political maturity" to cast a meaningful vote (Folkes, 2004;Cowley and Denver, 2004). It is stated that they lack political interest, do not have sufficient information, and will be easily misled by various political campaign efforts (Bergh, 2013). The concept of "political maturity", is undeniably difficult to operationalise, as there is no generally accepted definition of maturity. ...
Article
An often used argument against lowering the voting age to the age of 16 is that this age group would lack a sufficiently high level of “political maturity” and therefore would not be able to cast a vote that is in line with their political opinions. In this paper, we use a unique initiative set up by the city of Ghent (Belgium) to invite 16- and 17-year-olds to take part in a mock election to investigate whether adolescents are able to cast an ideologically congruent or “correct” vote. Our results do not show differences in proximity voting between adolescents and adult respondents. Furthermore, we find no evidence of socio-economic stratification in the extent to which adolescents cast a congruent vote. Our conclusion, therefore, is that this recurrent argument against lowering the voting age lacks empirical validity.
... [ Debates on youth turnout often circle around the question whether young citizens are actually mature enough to participate in elections and to make informed and meaningful choices. Previous findings are inconclusive: Some authors report gaps between 16-and 17-year-olds and older citizens regarding their political maturity (e.g., Chan and Clayton 2006;Bergh 2013;Plutzer 2002;Wass 2007). Others find that the youngest citizens are as mature as older citizens regarding their levels of political knowledge or the quality of their voting decisions. ...
Article
An increasing number of studies investigated whether citizens under 18 are mature enough to vote. While this research addresses the level of political interest and knowledge in young citizens, and the quality of their voting decision, it does not explore their sense of civic duty to vote and its role for their participation in elections. This is surprising, as the sense of civic duty to vote is one of the main drivers of electoral turnout. Looking at the Austrian case, where voting is possible from the age of 16, we contribute to closing this gap. In particular, we investigate (1) the role of civic duty for the participation of young citizens in elections and (2) what constitutes differences in the sense of civic duty between 16- and 17-year-old citizens and those aged 18 and older. We show that the young citizens’ sense of duty to vote affects their decision to turn out, but that they display a lower sense of duty than those aged 21 and above. These differences seem to be connected to the young citizens’ level of political interest and knowledge, and their involvement in discussion networks. The results have important implications for academics, educators, and policymakers.
... 18 Chan & Clayton (2006). 19 Bergh (2013). 20 Padilla (2018). ...
... under-18s, such as Austria and Norway (Nandy 2012, Democratic Audit 2013, Wagner, Johann & Kritzinger 2012, Bergh 2013. But enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds has been tried before in Scotland. ...
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Calls to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds are gaining ground, with the 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence potentially acting as a test ground for wider reforms. Debates on the relative merits of this decision aside, there is little practical experience of registering and engaging young people with major elections in the Scottish context. This article reports research on pilot Health Board Elections held in two areas of Scotland in 2010. 16 and 17 year olds were entitled to vote in these elections, and yet many were excluded by difficulties with registration, and turnout among those who did register was strikingly low. Drawing on focus groups in local schools, we draw out some key lessons for future efforts to engage young voters in Scotland.
... Nonetheless, Chan and Clayton (2006) conveniently outlined a set of quantifiable criteria that are claimed to be indicative of political maturity, including two very relevant variables: interest in politics and appreciation for the significance of political issues. In his exploration of political maturity vis-à-vis the lowering of minimum voting age, Bergh (2012) revealed that sixteen-year-olds scored consistently lower in political maturity than eighteen-year-olds, suggesting that the younger cohort may not yet be sufficiently mature to vote competently. The author further asserted that there is no conclusive evidence for levels of political maturity changing with their enfranchisement. ...
Article
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In March 2018, Maltese parliament effectuated a constitutional amendment by which voting rights were conferred on circa. 8,000 younger citizens aged sixteen and seventeen. Concerns over the integrity of this decision primarily emanated from the prevalent portrayal of young people as politically apathetic citizens with no appreciation for the responsibility implicit in voting. This widely aired apprehension served to motivate the present study, in which the validity of these concerns was determined through measurement of young people’s levels of interest in politics, their recognition and acceptance of voting responsibility, and their intended electoral participation. The research’s objectives were accomplished through a quantitative methodology and the involvement of 143 of the newest members of the electorate. Results revealed that participants predominantly maintained moderate levels of political interest and high levels of recognition and acceptance of voting responsibility. Moreover, the greater number of participants expressed intentions to vote in the upcoming general and European Parliamentary elections. The study’s outcomes bolstered the integrity of parliament’s decision to extend the franchise to younger citizens and simultaneously undermined the legitimacy of certain opposing arguments.
... Both academic and public discussion on this issue have been often framed in terms of the relationship between the age of enfranchisement and other thresholds of adult responsibility. The legitimacy or otherwise of 16-to 17-year-olds to join the electorate is thus founded on disputes about transitions to adulthood, evidenced by young people's political literacy and life experience -or lack thereof (Bergh, 2013;Degerman, 2014;Wagner et al., 2012). It is noteworthy that, while political and academic debate has become mired in repetitive arguments over the definition and parameters of 'adulthood', the shared underlying assumption is that the right to vote is exclusive to adult citizens. ...
Article
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The debate in the United Kingdom over whether the voting age should be lowered to 16 has largely involved political elites demanding change. Public opinion, insofar as it has been tested at UK-wide level, has tended to oppose lowering the voting age for Westminster elections, but change has proceeded for non-Westminster elections in Scotland and Wales. Drawing upon extensive research undertaken as part of a 2-year Leverhulme Trust project on the voting age debate, this article tests public opinion via quantitative surveys on whether the voting age should be lowered for UK-wide elections not only among the existing electorate but also among 16- to 17-year-olds. It suggests three things: (1) there has been a shift among adults towards support for change, but not an outright majority in favour; (2) the insulation of public opinion from the debate is likely to diminish as only a change in attitudes appears capable of eliciting change at UK level; and (3) the divisions on the issue among the public map onto the importance of age as a variable in party choice, with younger Labour supporters most in favour of Votes-at-16 and older Conservatives most opposed. This political partisanship was absent when the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 half-a-century ago but is likely to dominate the Votes-at-16 debate for years to come.
... With, on average, fewer voters participating in elections, both policy makers and social science scholars have searched for possible solutions to increase electoral participation, especially among younger age groups, and one of the recurring suggestions in this debate is to lower the legal voting age (Zeglovits and Aichholzer 2014). However, the empirical evidence with regard to the consequences of lowering the voting age is rather mixed (Chan and Clayton 2006;Wagner et al. 2012;Bergh 2013;Eichhorn 2014). There are two major arguments within this debate. ...
Article
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Lowering the voting age is often criticized due to the alleged political immaturity of young voters, which is considered as negative for the quality of democracy. We adopt a unique approach to this issue by measuring political congruence between adolescents and their parents to ascertain whether ideological views and salient positional issues, such as attitudes on immigration, differ between different age groups in adolescence. Using a household survey in the city of Ghent (Belgium), first we compare political ideologies and attitudes toward immigration for those of age between 15 and 19, and their parents. We find that adolescent children tend to resemble the political ideologies of their parents, and they also tend to have similar attitudes about immigration. Second, we find that ideological resemblance is even higher among adolescents that regularly talk about politics with their parents. Finally, we do not find evidence that political congruence with parents differs by the age of adolescent children or their right to vote. Therefore, we conclude that political ideology and positional views are formed in an early stage of adolescence, i.e., before the age of 15. Our findings have relevance for the debate about lowering the voting age, as it points to already clearly formed ideological views and political attitudes at early stages of adolescent life.
... The first indicates that young people at the age of 16 do not have political maturity, and also that their political knowledge does not increase by having voting experiences at that age. Within this strand, we found studies from diverse national contexts, such as Sweden (Rosenqvist, 2020), Norway (Bergh, 2013), and the UK (Birch et al., 2015;Chan and Clayton, 2006;Cowley and Denver 2004). Seeking to summarise the sceptical view about lowering the voting age, Zeglovits and Aichholzer (2014) state that the 'arguments against foremost cover such concerns as the lack of political maturity, political interest and political knowledge of young voters which might lead to an uninformed vote choice' (p. ...
The intention of this article is to contribute to the debate about whether the voting age should be lowered to the age of 16, by examining quantitative and qualitative data collected in a local participation project with young people in Portugal: questionnaires (N = 961), interviews (N = 3), and focus group discussions (N = 15). Considering the coexistence of both willingness and reluctance to get engaged in formal politics-as youngsters often feel ill-equipped politically-it is argued that adequate political education needs be provided by schools to enable young people to be confident and knowledgeable voters. We propose that governments recognise the importance of this area in the school curriculum, in order to enable the young people's acquisition of knowledge and skills that can sustain their growth as competent voters. This is crucial in legitimising democratic representative systems.
... Put differently, one can ask: 'What comes first, rights or responsibilities?' Zandonella 2013, 1085). It could simply be eligibility as such that raises political interest (Hart and Atkins 2011;Bergh 2003;Eichhorn 2018;Rosenqvist 2017), independent of the contexts that young citizens are embedded in. For example, Quintelier and Hooghe (2012) provide evidence that the effect of political participation on political interest is stronger than that of political interest on participation (see also Zeglovits and Zandonella 2013). ...
Article
Some scholars argue that lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 years led to declining turnout rates and increasing political inequality. Individuals in this age bracket are often no longer in school, frequently moved out from their parental home and are thus no longer within reach of the major political socialisation agents. We empirically test some of these claims and their effects on youngsters’ political interest and turnout on a behavioural level. We use the 2017 state election in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein as our case, as the voting age had been lowered to 16 prior to this election. Thus, we are able to compare interest and turnout of those who are 16 and 17 years old with ‘traditional’ first-time voters at age 18. Our results show that lowering the voting age to 16 is unlikely to enfranchise a group of voters with an extraordinarily low propensity to turnout. It might in fact have a (relative) positive effect compared to slightly older voters, as more citizens at this age are still part of social networks that are conducive to electoral participation. At the same time, lowering the voting age might magnify existing inequalities because of network homogeneity.
Article
This article investigates one of the most profound debates revolving around democratic quality in representative democratic systems and youth participation in politics and society. The debate on suffrage reforms and, more specifically, on lowering the voting age, normally from 18 to 16, is currently high on the agenda in Western countries. The general debate on suffrage reforms is complex. This article identifies four main groups of arguments in what is labelled the European Voting Age Debate, consisting of the legal arguments, the constitutional practice arguments, the democracy arguments and the political maturity arguments. Due to a lack of empirical evidence, the debate is often based on normative, rather than empirical arguments. However, as the first country in the world to do so, Norway conducted a provisional Voting Age Trial in the local end regional elections in 2011, where the voting age was lowered to the age of 16 in 21 carefully selected municipalities. Drawing on numerous reports and studies investigating the trial directly, as well as others parts of the public debate and legal framework influencing the debate on suffrage reforms, the article presents the arguments of the European Voting Age Debate and presents and discusses the main findings and experiences made in Norway in light of the arguments made in the general debate. One important aim is to investigate to what extent the experiences made can say something about whether the voting age should be lowered or not, in Norway specifically, but also with relevance to similar debates in other Western countries.
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Dieser Beitrag zeigt durch einen Rückgriff auf die Ideengeschichte auf, wie sich die Vorstellung, welche Voraussetzungen ein Staatsbürger im Hinblick auf Alter und politische Urteilsfähigkeit mitbringen sollte, um als Teil des wahlberechtigten Demos anerkannt zu werden, seit der Neuzeit geändert hat. Der Beitrag verdeutlicht, dass der gegenwärtige Ausschluss eines relevanten Teils des deutschen Staatsvolks, der Minderjährigen, den normativen Begründungen der Staatsform Demokratie, speziell dem Prinzip der Gleichwertigkeit aller Menschen und dem all-affected-principle, widerspricht. Anschließend wechselt er auf die praktische Ebene und stellt ein eigenes Modell zur Diskussion: das altersunabhängige Recht Minderjähriger, sich in die Wählerliste einzutragen. Dieses Modell stellt eine pragmatische Lösung dar, die zwei Sachverhalte gleichermaßen berücksichtigt: erstens die Gradualität des Reifungsprozesses von Heranwachsenden; zweitens die Nichtabstufb arkeit der normativen Prämissen der Demokratie.
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Der vorliegende Beitrag untersucht die Erfahrung in Österreich, dem einzigen Land der EU, in welchem das Wählen mit 16 seit dem Jahr 2007 bei allen Wahlen erlaubt ist. Die empirischen Ergebnisse von 2013 zeigen, dass die Einbettungen der ErstwählerInnen in das Elternhaus und in den schulischen Kontext gute Möglichkeiten darstellen, um junge Menschen auf ihre erste Wahl vorzubereiten. Unterschiede zwischen sozialen Gruppen lassen darauf schließen, dass zur Erreichung bestimmter Gruppen (Lehrlinge und junge Frauen) besondere Anstrengungen unternommen werden müssen. Grundsätzlich überwiegen die positiven Erfahrungen des Wählens mit 16. Die zukünftigen Wahlen in Österreich werden zeigen, ob dabei auch langfristige Auswirkungen (z. B. Erhöhung der Wahlteilnahme durch frühzeitige Entwicklung eines Wahlhabitus) zutage treten werden.
Article
This study looks at the socialisation of internal political efficacy. It assesses the link from individual background, through socio-political learning experiences, to the perception of political competence. A quantitative survey of thresholders (n 849), i.e. adolescents on the threshold of voting age in the Republic of Ireland provides data for analysis, with a particular focus on their socialisation experiences in home, school and associational settings. It finds a higher sense of internal efficacy among young males than females, irrespective of socialisation experience. Family politicisation is found to mitigate the differences in internal efficacy associated with socio-economic status. Though some pseudo-political mastery experiences from school and associational environs assessed here are linked to thresholder’s internal efficacy, the link is minor.
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Politische Partizipation ist eines der zentralen Themen in der politischen Soziologie und wird häufig als ein Indikator für die Legitimität und den Status von liberalen Demokratien verwendet. In der Wahlforschung wird hierbei ein besonderer Fokus auf den Indikator „Wahlteilnahme“ gelegt (z. B. Topf 1995; Anderson und Singer 2008). Ganz allgemein wird dabei beobachtet, wie oft Wähler_innen an unterschiedlichen Wahlen teilnehmen, welche soziodemographischen Unterschiede es zwischen Wähler_innen und Nicht-Wähler_innen gibt und welche Gründe für die Nichtteilnahme ausschlaggebend sein könnten (für eine generelle Übersicht siehe Blais 2000 und Franklin 2004).
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Eine gängige Hypothese der partizipativen Demokratietheorie lautet, dass die vielfältige Beteiligung von Bürgern am politischen Prozess deren politisches Interesse und deren politischen Kompetenzen erhöht. Wir testen diese Hypothese am Beispiel der Wirkung der Beteiligung an Wahlen auf das politische Interesse von Erstwählern. Als Datenbasis dienen Individualdaten aus 13 Demokratien seit 1977, unter Anderem Befragungsdaten zu neun Bundestagswahlen zwischen 1983 und 2013. Ein Regressionsdiskontinuitätsdesign, das einen kausalen Wahlbeteiligungseffekt an der Altersschwelle zur Wahlberechtigung von jungen Erwachsenen identifiziert, zeigt einen deutlichen Effekt der Wahlbeteiligung auf das politische Interesse, der jedoch etwa sechs Monate nach der Wahl wieder verschwunden ist. Dieses empirische Muster zeigt sich in den deutschen, als auch den internationalen Parlamentswahlen.
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This article examines whether the voting age should be lowered to 16. The dominant view in the literature is that 16-year-olds in the United Kingdom are not politically mature enough to vote since they lack political knowledge, political interest and stable political preferences (Chan and Clayton, 2006). I reject this conclusion and instead argue that the voting age should be lowered to 16. First, I look at Chan and Clayton’s empirical claims and show that these features of 16- and 17-year-olds are in fact created by exclusionary social practices and therefore that these features cannot be used to justify their exclusion from the vote. Second, I evaluate preliminary evidence from Austria which suggests that 16- and 17-year-olds, when actually given the vote, are politically mature. Third, I show that, on a balance of harms, considering that some 16- and 17-year-olds are mature, we still should lower the voting age even if some 16- and 17-year-olds are not politically mature. I conclude that the voting age should be lowered to (at least) 16.
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In 2014, 16- and 17-year-olds in Scotland were allowed to vote in the independence referendum. Subsequently, it was decided that 16- and 17-year-olds should be able to vote in Scottish elections. 16 and 17-year-olds in England have not been similarly enfranchised. Using that situation as a form of natural experiment, this chapter considers whether 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland express different political attitudes and behaviour compared to their counterparts in the rest of the UK. The chapter identifies higher levels of political engagement amongst 16- and 17-year-olds in Scotland and argues that further steps, including in the area of civic education, is required to generate lasting positive change.
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Rising to the Occasion? Youth Political Knowledge and the Voting Age - Olof Rosenqvist
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This article presents new evidence on the experience of 16-year olds voting after the reduction of the voting age in Scotland following the 2014 independence referendum. Using survey data from 2015 it compares 16-to 17-year-old Scottish respondents with their peers in the rest of the UK to see whether we can observe difference in their political attitudes and behaviour ahead of the 2015 General Election. The analyses show potentially significant positive effects following the reduced voting age but distinguish different domains and show that distinctive effects for the youngest age group seem to be most pronounced in relation to political behaviour (both electoral and non-electoral forms), but to a lesser extent in terms of evaluations of politics more generally. The findings also highlight the important interplay between enfranchisement and different socialising agents for young people, in particular parents and civic education in schools. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Hansard Society; all rights reserved.
Article
Research shows that parents have a strong influence on the party preferences of their children. Yet little is known about how such preferences are transmitted in multiparty systems with weak party identification and high electoral volatility. We propose a model of intergenerational transmission that includes both direct effects of parents' party preferences on those of their children, as well as indirect effects through left–right and issue positions. We test this model with original survey data of Dutch adolescents (14–20 years old) and their parents (N = 751 adolescent‐parent pairs). We find two paths through which parents exert influence on the party preferences of their adolescent children. On the first path, parental party preferences function as a direct predictor of adolescent party preferences. On the second path, adolescent left–right and issue positions function as a mediator between parental left–right and issue positions and adolescent party preferences, with the effect of left–right positions being stronger than that of issue positions. The frequency with which adolescents discuss political topics with their parents moderates these effects.
Democratic theorists tend to assume, without a great deal of argument, that age-based discrimination in access to the franchise is justified. In this paper, I challenge the orthodoxy. I argue that all major, plausible accounts of the justification of democracy converge upon a requirement to enfranchise a substantial proportion of the child population. Along the way, I consider and respond to several challenges that have been raised to child enfranchisement.
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Since the terrorist attacks in Norway in July 2011, there has been a general rise in political participation among young Norwegians. This was evident just a few weeks after the attack, when turnout among first-time voters (the age group 18–21) went up by 11 percentage points in the local elections (to 46%). In those September 2011 elections, the voting age was lowered from 18 to 16 in a selected group of 20 municipalities. Turnout was also quite high among 16- and 17-year olds (58%). This level of participation has remained stable among young voters in later elections. Relying on quantitative data on turnout by age, membership in political youth parties and qualitative interviews with first-time voters, the chapter discusses how three different mechanisms—life cycle, generational and period effects—may explain this mobilization. The authors find strong life-cycle effects which account for stable differences between age groups.
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To justify reducing eligibility to vote to age 16 is to show how it serves as a means to enhanced democratic political engagement. Hence the question posed here is under what, if any, circumstances does reducing the voting age enhance political engagement. Political engagement is shorthand for the second, qualitative dimension of electoral participation. The first dimension is that of turnout, a purely quantitative expression. If our concern is limited to this dimension, then we should address making voting compulsory. But, in doing so, we risk bringing to the polls an additional number of less sophisticated voters. This is also the challenge posed to voting at 16 which the data shows, can also raise turnout. This chapter concentrates on the second, qualitative, dimension of political participation, which we can characterize as political engagement, a combination of political interest and knowledge. And here the relationship is far from clear. The conclusion is thus that the first priority must be to promote natural experiments to test, and potentially establish, this relationship.
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This chapter tracks the process of lowering the voting age for municipal elections in Estonia and looks at the results of the 2017 elections, when 16- to 17-year olds could cast their votes for the first time. The analysis highlights the importance of interaction between youth advocacy and political actors in parliament, as well as getting non-parliamentary institutional actors involved in the next stages. The modernization of voting via internet tools has revealed unexpected results in terms of young voters’ engagement. Most of them preferred conventional voting at polling stations instead of internet voting widely used in Estonia. In contrast, the electoral campaign reached young people mainly via social media and the Internet. Ironically, debates and regulations aiming to secure fair and free elections for youth evaluated the situation in the opposite way, assuming that the campaign would have been based on traditional modes, but voting would have been done online.
Article
While youth suffrage is widely debated, the causal effects of being eligible to vote on adolescents' political attitudes are less well known. To gain insights into this question, we leverage data from a real-life quasi-experiment of voting at 16 in the city of Ghent (Belgium). We compare the attitudes of adolescents that were entitled to vote with their peers that just fell below the age cut-off. We also examine the effects of the enfranchisement at 18-years-old. While we find an effect of youth enfranchisement on attention to politics, there is no evidence for an effect of enfranchisement on political engagement overall.
Article
Zusammenfassung Diese Untersuchung ist aus informationswissenschaftlicher Sicht dem Themenbereich der Informationskompetenz zuzuordnen und überprüft die Wahlkompetenz von wahlberechtigten Studierenden. Dabei werden diese um eine Einschätzung der Positionen der wichtigsten politischen Parteien Österreichs gebeten. Die Wahlkompetenz wird umso höher eingeschätzt, je geringer die als Fehlerquote bezeichnete Abweichung zwischen subjektiver Einschätzung und tatsächlicher Position ist. Die für die Untersuchung benötigten Daten zu den Pateipositionen wurden der Wahlempfehlungsplattform „wahlkabine.at“ entnommen. Die Einschätzung der Position erfolgte mittels strukturierter Befragung von 620 Studierenden. Zusätzlich wird analysiert, ob es bei der Wahlkompetenz studiums-, geschlechter-, alters- oder interessensspezifische Unterschiede gibt. Die Ergebnisse zeigen eine recht hohe Wahlkompetenz der Studierenden. Im Durchschnitt lag die Fehlerquote, je nach Methodik, zwischen 24,7 und 36,6 Prozent. Signifikant besser schnitten v. a. Studierende mit einem hohen Interesse an Politik ab.
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Young people are said to be uninterested in politics. This lack of political interest among adolescents has been used as an argument against lowering the voting age. But why should someone be interested in politics if he or she is not eligible to vote? In this paper, we examine the differences in political interest of 16- and 17-year-old Austrians before and after lowering the voting age to 16, using cross-sectional survey data. Doing so, we capture a broad concept of political interest, including situational and individual interest. We observe that political interest of 16- and 17-year-olds was higher after lowering the voting age. In addition, the patterns concerning the determinants of political interest changed as well: study findings indicate that parents were of utmost importance in influencing political interest of young people who were not yet enfranchised. The impact of schools on political interest among young people emerged after the voting age had been lowered. In the specific societal and situational context of Austria, the development of political interest among young people seems to be associated with the ‘life event’ of enfranchisement.
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Critics of giving citizens under 18 the right to vote argue that such teenagers lack the ability and motivation to participate effectively in elections. If this argument is true, lowering the voting age would have negative consequences for the quality of democracy. We test the argument using survey data from Austria, the only European country with a voting age of 16 in nation-wide elections. While the turnout levels of young people under 18 are relatively low, their failure to vote cannot be explained by a lower ability or motivation to participate. In addition, the quality of these citizens' choices is similar to that of older voters, so they do cast votes in ways that enable their interests to be represented equally well. These results are encouraging for supporters of a lower voting age.
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In logit and probit regression analysis, a common practice is to estimate separate models for two Or more groups and then compare coefficients across groups. An equivalent method is to test for interactions between particular predictors and dummy (indicator) variables representing the groups. Both methods may lead to invalid conclusions residual variation differs across groups. New tests are proposed that adjust for unequal residual variation.
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In 2007, the voting age in Austria was lowered from 18 to 16 years of age. For the first time, adolescents, above the age of 16, were allowed to vote in the early parliamentary elections of 2008. This new situation served as a starting point for a post-election survey of political attitudes, voting behaviour and the democratic understanding of the 16 to 18 year olds. The article summarises some of the main findings. It draws the conclusion that adolescents are a politically heterogeneous group, expressing different attitudes. The status as a school pupil or an employee represents a particularly important factor.
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With the introduction of voting at the age of 16 in Austria there was an intensive agenda setting for civic education both politically and in the media. This has also called attention to a deficit, namely the often missing data concerning attitudes of youth respectively teachers towards politics and civic education. All too often only personal reports of experiences alternatively case studies are available, but partly comprehensive studies dealing with the accordingly attitudes were made only during the progress of lowering the age to vote. In this contribution the results of surveys among youth and teachers are compared with those among the total population, and the thesis is examined if the Austrian youth distrusts politics. A first total result shows that youth in its attitude to politics respectively to the understanding of democracy differs less than originally presumed. Furthermore the understanding of democracy is average with a few radical opponents against democracy - however there is a dangerous number of latent discontent youngsters (and teachers), who are susceptible to political extremism. Referring to interest in politics and civic education there is a cleavage between different groups of youngsters. Interest in politics and political knowledge strongly correlate with social and educational backgrounds.
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In October 2005, 16 to 18 year old teenagers - for the first time - were allowed to participate in the Viennese local elections. Previously, the lowering of the voting age was discussed controversially, carried by critical assumptions about young people's disenchantment with politics, their political interest and a lack of values. Our empirical research, however, shows that political disinterest does not refer inherently to political topics in general, but addresses more the political parties and the institutional setting. Furthermore, we found that young people place high demands on the ballot itself, provided that voting has a stabilising, legitimating effect and confirms their own values. In the conclusions it is claimed that the early integration of young people into the institutional procedures of participation and elections probably will increase the chance of continued voting.
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Chapter 8 considers the logistic regression model in greater detail. It begins by outlining the techniques used to investigate interaction effects, including variable-specific interaction terms as well as an analogue to the Chow test. Next, the chapter discusses the modeling of nonlinearity in the relationship between the regressors and the logit. The narrative then addresses the testing of coefficient changes across models, and the investigation of discriminatory power and empirical consistency in logistic regression. The chapter concludes with an explication of logistic regression for multinomial responses, considering models for both unordered and ordered response variables.
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The article examines short-term effects of terror on trust and civic engagement in Norway. Prior to the July 22, 2011 attacks, Norway ranked among the nations with the highest levels of trust and civic engagement in the world. How does a nation of trusters react to terror? Based on two web surveys conducted in March/April 2011 and August 2011 short-term effects on trust, fear, and political interest and participation are analyzed. Two competing hypotheses are explored: first, the “end-of-innocence hypothesis,” which assumes that the attacks have disrupted trust and instilled a new culture of fear, and second, the “remobilization hypothesis,” which assumes that the attacks have led to a reinforcement of trust and of civic values. Our results show increased interpersonal and institutional trust as well as a modest increase in civic engagement, especially among youth. Moreover, there is little increase in experienced fear within the population. Our study therefore supports the remobilization-of-trust hypothesis. Contrary to the intended aims of the attacker, the structures of trust and civic engagement seem to have been reinforced in Norwegian society. This study in part corroborates findings concerning short-term effects after September 11, 2001.
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Voting is a habit. People learn the habit of voting, or not, based on experience in their first few elections. Elections that do not stimulate high turnout among young adults leave a ‘footprint’ of low turnout in the age structure of the electorate as many individuals who were new at those elections fail to vote at subsequent elections. Elections that stimulate high turnout leave a high turnout footprint. So a country's turnout history provides a baseline for current turnout that is largely set, except for young adults. This baseline shifts as older generations leave the electorate and as changes in political and institutional circumstances affect the turnout of new generations. Among the changes that have affected turnout in recent years, the lowering of the voting age in most established democracies has been particularly important in creating a low turnout footprint that has grown with each election.
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American 16- and 17-year-olds ought to be allowed to vote in state and national elections. This claim rests upon a line of argument that begins with an exegesis of legal and philosophical notions of citizenship that identify core qualities of citizenship: membership, concern for rights, and participation in society. Each of these qualities is present in rudimentary form in childhood and adolescence. Analyses of national survey data demonstrate that by 16 years of age—but not before— American adolescents manifest levels of development in each quality of citizenship that are approximately the same as those apparent in young American adults who are allowed to vote. The lack of relevant differences in capacities for citizenship between 16- and 17-year-olds and those legally enfranchised makes current laws arbitrary, denying those younger than age 18 the right to vote. Awarding voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds is important, given the changing age demographics in the country, which have resulted in the growing block of older voters displacing the interests of younger Americans in the political arena. Finally, the authors critically examine claims that adolescents are neither neurologically nor socially mature enough to vote responsibly and conclude that empirical evidence and fairness suggest that 16- and 17-year-olds ought to be awarded the vote.
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Having estimated a linear regression with p coefficients, one may wish to test whether m additional observations belong to the same regression. This paper presents systematically the tests involved, relates the prediction interval (for m = 1) and the analysis of covariance (for m > p) within the framework of general linear hypothesis (for any m), and extends the results to testing the equality between subsets of coefficients.
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Some roots of political inequality are planted early in life through linked disparities in individual background and sense of political agency and efficacy. Education often exacerbates these early political advantages. This article uses data from a study of undergraduates to examine whether some types of political learning can promote a sense of political confidence equitably—boosting efficacy for all without making the “political haves” come out farther ahead. Multilevel analysis examines the role of their socioeconomic status, civic resources, and sociopolitical learning for internal efficacy achievement. The findings identify sociopolitical learning mechanisms that differently interact with individual background to contribute to political efficacy and political equality: experiences in a politically active community, acquiring skills for political action, engaging in political discourse, and inclusion in collaborative pluralist contexts. These aspects of political learning can enhance efficacy and reduce the influence of largely unchosen political advantages, creating an alternative pathway to political empowerment.
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Political polarization is commonly measured using the variation of responses on an individual issue in the population: more variation corresponds to more people on the extremes and fewer in the middle. By this measure, research has shown that - despite many commentators' concerns about increased polarization in recent decades - Americans' attitudes have become no more variable over the past two or three decades. What seems to have changed is the level of partisanship of the electorate. We define a new measure of political polarization as increased correlations in issue attitudes and we distinguish between issue partisanship - the correlation of issue attitudes with party ID and liberal-conservative ideology - and issue alignment - the correlation between pairs of issues. Using the National Election Studies, we find issue alignment to have increased within and between issue domains, but by only a small amount (approximately 2 percentage points in correlation per decade). Issue partisanship has increased more than twice as fast, thus suggesting that increased partisanship is not due to higher ideological coherence. Rather, it is parties that are more polarized and therefore better at sorting individuals along ideological lines; the change in people's attitudes corresponds more to a re-sorting of party labels among voters than to greater constraint on issue attitudes. We conclude suggesting that increased issue partisanship, in a context of persistently low issue constraint, might give greater voice to political extremists and single-issue advocates, and amplify dynamics of unequal representation.
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In the light of the Electoral Commission's recent review of the age of electoral majority, we consider and reject several arguments raised by both sides of the voting age debate. The key issue, we claim, is the political maturity of young people. Drawing on empirical data collected in nationally representative surveys, we argue that the weight of such evidence suggests that young people are, to a significant degree, politically less mature than older people, and that the voting age should not be lowered to 16.
Maktutredningens diagnose av lokaldemokratiet Lokalvalg og lokalt folkestyre Should the voting age be lowered to sixteen? Normative and empirical considerations
  • T Bjørklund
  • T W Chan
  • M Clayton
Bjørklund, T., 2005. Maktutredningens diagnose av lokaldemokratiet. In: Saglie, J., Bjørklund, T. (Eds.), Lokalvalg og lokalt folkestyre. Gyldendal Akademisk, Oslo. Chan, T.W., Clayton, M., 2006. Should the voting age be lowered to sixteen? Normative and empirical considerations. Political Studies 54, 533–558.
Political Life – Why People Get Involved in Politics. The Free Press of Glencoe Political engagement and view of earlier voting among youth in Norway by age
  • R E Lane
Lane, R.E., 1959. Political Life – Why People Get Involved in Politics. The Free Press of Glencoe, Glencoe, MN. Lauglo, J., 2011. Political engagement and view of earlier voting among youth in Norway by age. In: Paper presented at the 2011 ECPR-Conference in Reykjavik.
Ungdom, valgdeltagelse og stemmerett. En kunnskapsoversikt. Institute for social research
  • G Aars
, G., Aars, J., 2011. Ungdom, valgdeltagelse og stemmerett. En kunnskapsoversikt. Institute for social research, Oslo.
Stemmerett for 16-åringer: forsøk som flernivåinnovasjon
  • G Ødegård
  • J Saglie
Ødegård, G., Saglie, J. Stemmerett for 16-åringer: forsøk som flerni-våinnovasjon. In: T. Ringholm, H. Teigen N. Aarsaether (eds.) Inno-vasjon i norske kommuner, in press.
Lowering voting age in Austria - evaluation of accompanying campaigns for 16-18 year olds
  • E Zeglovits
  • S Schwarzer
Maktutredningens diagnose av lokaldemokratiet
  • Bjørklund
Political engagement and view of earlier voting among youth in Norway by age
  • J Lauglo