Gender Differences in Political and Civic Engagement Among Young People
33 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 27 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
The explosion of interest in the political and civic engagement of young people has brought increasing attention to the question of gender differences in youth engagement. One reason is that the study of young people may provide particular leverage on a common explanation for gender differences observed among adults, specifically that greater rates of participation among men—when present—arise from their advantage in the cognitive and material resources that promote political activity and that access to politically relevant resources are more equally distributed among younger citizens so that there is more gender uniformity than gender difference among the young.. This paper uses data from nationwide surveys of 18 to 24 year olds in 2006 and 2007 to examine the roots of gender differences in political activities and in community/nonprofit activities. After examining basic patterns of difference, it develops a multivariate model and applies it separately to young men and young women. The results of this analysis are then used as the point of departure for a preliminary analysis of the differential effects that male and female parents have on their children. Overall, we find evidence that having well-educated parents who are interested in politics affects women more than men. Talking to parents about politics seems to increase electoral engagement for young women more than for young men; but it also seems to increase community and nonprofit engagement for young men more than for young women.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation