Consequences of Demographic Change on Political Attitudes and Political Behavior in Germany

Research question/goal: 

This project investigated the political implications of population ageing. Using different data types, data sets and statistical methods, political attitudes and political behaviour were analysed from various perspectives. To address relevant aspects in greater detail, group discussions were held in 2010, and a CATI-survey was fielded in 2011.

We found that demographic change is linked rather modestly to regional differences in electoral behaviour at the macro level. This is mainly due to interactions with other social-structural and economic context characteristics which sometimes intensify but often attenuate the impact of population ageing. At the meso level we performed cohort analyses of electoral behaviour. This provides evidence to what extent and in which mix age and cohort effects were driving forces of electoral history. The CDU/CSU and the Greens are most affected by age effects in the expected directions. Concerning cohort effects, older cohorts tend to vote more for the CDU/CSU, whereas younger cohorts favour the SPD or the Greens. Projections of future developments show that changes which are exclusively attributable to population ageing are rather modest. Assuming that current trends in electoral behaviour continue, turnout is expected to slightly decrease, the CDU/CSU and the FDP will presumably gain votes and the comparably biggest loser should be the SPD. At the micro level we analysed welfare state attitudes focusing on age-specific policies (e.g., long-term care, education). Differences due to age are modest, with the exception of the young being much more worried regarding their own old age than the old. Considering age-specific determinants of voting behaviour, there is evidence that the effect of welfare state preferences regarding policies that mainly benefit the young works differently among older people depending on whether they have children or not, while no such difference is found among younger people.

The main findings of the project were published in professional journals and a monograph (Nomos publishers, 2014).

Fact sheet

Volkswagen Foundation, University of Mannheim
2009 to 2014
Data Sources: 
Survey data, aggregate data, qualitative study components (focus groups)
Geographic Space: 



Konzelmann, Laura, Michael Bergmann and Hans Rattinger (2014): Demographic Change in Germany - its Political Consequences. Baden-Baden: Nomos. [Studien zur Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung; 27] more