Young Citizens' Civic Engagement and Civic Attitudes: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis

66 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017 Last revised: 24 Nov 2020

See all articles by Yusaku Horiuchi

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Hiroto Katsumata

University of Tokyo

Ethan Woodard

Date Written: November 24, 2020


Although reaching the voting age and getting enrolled in the voters' list is an essential first step in the electoral process, existing studies have rarely investigated its effects on citizens' socio-political experiences and civic attitudes. To fill this gap, we leverage a natural experiment in Japan, where citizens who turn eighteen years old and become eligible to vote in elections are automatically registered. For this inquiry, just after the 2016 House of Councillors election in Japan, we invited thousands of seventeen- and eighteen-year-old Japanese citizens to take an on-line survey. The results of our exact-date-of-birth regression discontinuity analysis suggest that becoming eligible to vote increases young citizens' interaction with other voters and facilitates their information acquisition efforts before the election. Therefore, obtaining vote eligibility for an upcoming election is accompanied by some degree of increased civic engagement. However, it is not enough to change their civic attitudes, such as trust in government and a sense of efficacy in the democratic process. We argue that the intensity of civic engagement under the automatic registration system is weak due to the lack of citizens' self-initiated actions for the registration itself.

Keywords: civic engagement, civic attitudes, voter registration, voting eligibility, young voters, regression discontinuity, Japan

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Horiuchi, Yusaku and Katsumata, Hiroto and Woodard, Ethan, Young Citizens' Civic Engagement and Civic Attitudes: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis (November 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States


Hiroto Katsumata

University of Tokyo ( email )

Meguro-ku Komaba 3-8-1
Tokyo, 153-8902

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