Mobility, Mobilization, and Registration: A Generational Model
41 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 10 Oct 2010
Date Written: July 27, 2010
Age is among the strongest predictors of political participation, yet it is also among the least well understood. We offer a model of participation in the U.S. voter registration system - the first step in the voting process. In this model, older people are more apt to participate than younger people, but not because of their age nor because of the civic resources, social capital, or political interest that accumulate with age. A strong relationship between age and participation takes form simply as a byproduct of the rules of the registration system, namely that participation is voluntary and that it is residentially based. A new, national random sample of 1.8 million voter registration records is employed to test the model. The model provides a theoretical foundation for the relationship between age and participation, identifies the functional form of that relationship, and solves a puzzle about the nature of participatory bias.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation