Must I stay or may I go? Voting at the Age of 16 in the German Multilevel System

25.03.2019 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum B 316
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Prof. Thorsten Faas
Lecturer affiliation: 
FU Berlin

In this paper, we (Thorsten Faas, Arndt Leininger, Sigrid Roßteutscher, Armin Schäfer) add to the literature on political socialization, which has predominantly focused on context, by investigating the role of a key event in the period of transition from adolescence to early adulthood. We use a register-based panel survey of 3900 German adolescents to study the role a citizen’s first-ever electoral eligibility plays in their political socialization. Knowing our respondents’ exact birth date, we estimate the causal effect of eligibility in a regression discontinuity design seeking to understand whether eligibility has an impact on typical outcomes of political socialization. We find no effect on political interest, political efficacy, party identification or acceptance of a duty to vote. However, we do see a positive effect of eligibility on political conversations (with family and friends) as well as the usage of a voting advice application. However, first-time eligibility seems to act as a trigger to act on previously acquired attitudes towards politics as eligibility causes information seeking behavior and subjective knowledge.