Young People's Trajectories of Political Participation in Europe: Cohort Effects or Life-Cycle Effects?

Young People's Studies Magazine, No. 81, June 2008

26 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2008

See all articles by Antonio M. Jaime-Castillo

Antonio M. Jaime-Castillo

University of Málaga; Centro de Estudios Andaluces

Date Written: June 2008


Different patterns of young people's and adult's political participation depend on two types of causal factors (Bennet, 1997). On the one hand, there is a cohort effect that reflects different contexts in which the process of political socialization of each generation takes place. And therefore, there is a trend that explains stable differences between generations. On the other hand, there is also a life-cycle effect, and depending on this factor political participation patterns change as time passes, which leads to a convergence between generations. However, on an empirical level, it is very complex to distinguish the size of both effects when it comes to explaining differences in participation of young people and adults at a certain moment in time. This article makes a comparison using three waves of the EVS (European Value Survey) in 1980, 1990 and 2000. There are two objectives: First, comparing differences in patterns of participation of young people during the last three decades in Europe (cohort effect). In the second place, study evolution of the trajectories of political participation of young people in the three cohorts throughout time (life-cycle effect). Comparisons of these results will allow us to identify to what extent differences between cohorts are persistent (in which case, we will have to find the explanations in different contexts of political socialization) or, on the contrary, if there is convergence between cohorts (in that case, explaining factors will be found in the processes of transition from youth to adulthood).

Keywords: political participation, socialization, young people, cohorts, life cycle

JEL Classification: D63, D72, D82

Suggested Citation

Jaime-Castillo, Antonio M., Young People's Trajectories of Political Participation in Europe: Cohort Effects or Life-Cycle Effects? (June 2008). Young People's Studies Magazine, No. 81, June 2008, Available at SSRN:

Antonio M. Jaime-Castillo (Contact Author)

University of Málaga ( email )

Faculty of Economics and Business
C/ Ejido, 6
Málaga, Málaga 29071


Centro de Estudios Andaluces

C/ Bailén. 50
41001 Seville, Seville 41001

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