Enhancing Democracy: Can Civic Engagement Foster Political Participation?

23 Pages Posted: 12 May 2017 Last revised: 25 Feb 2018

See all articles by Martin Binder

Martin Binder

Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute; University of the German Federal Armed Forces - Universität der Bundeswehr München

Date Written: February 20, 2018

Abstract

Objective: The aim of the present manuscript is to address Tocqueville's hypothesis that voluntary associations and volunteering are breeding grounds for democratic virtues and skills and thus enhance political participation.

Methods: Data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) data set spanning the years 1991-2008 are analyzed using multivariate panel data regression techniques to assess the effect of voluntary association membership/activities on political participation in the UK.

Results: It is found that organizational activity (more than mere membership) positively impacts on political participation but these effects are smaller than usually found and depend on types of associations and degree of activity. Sensitivity analyses support the finding the political interest more strongly predicts political party support than associational activities. Further support for causal interpretations is scant.

Conclusion: Some evidence for Tocqueville's hypothesis can be found for the UK during the sample horizon but the effect is sensitive to model specification and issues of reverse causation remain.

Keywords: subjective well-being, BHPS, voluntary associations, political participation

JEL Classification: D64, D71, I31

Suggested Citation

Binder, Martin and Binder, Martin, Enhancing Democracy: Can Civic Engagement Foster Political Participation? (February 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2967479 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2967479

Martin Binder (Contact Author)

University of the German Federal Armed Forces - Universität der Bundeswehr München ( email )

Werner-Heisenberg-Weg 39
Neubiberg
Munich, 85579
Germany

Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute ( email )

Blithewood
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
United States

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