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New Publication by Thorsten Faas et al. in „Electoral Studies“: Coming of Voting Age. Evidence from a Natural Experiment on the Effects of Electoral Eligibility

Electoral Studies

Electoral Studies

News from Mar 11, 2024

In this year’s European Elections 16 and 17 year olds be allowed to vote – for the first time on a European level. Thorsten Faas, Arndt Leininger, Armin Schäfer and Sigrid Roßteutscher now published an article on the issue of voting age in the latest issue of „Electoral Studies“: „Coming of Voting Age. Evidence from a Natural Exaccoperiment on the Effects of Electoral Eligibility”.


In recent years, several jurisdictions have lowered the voting age, with many more discussing it. Sceptics question whether young people are ready to vote, while supporters argue that allowing them to vote would increase their specific engagement with politics. To test the latter argument, we use a series of register-based surveys of over 10,000 German adolescents. Knowing the exact birthdates of our respondents, we estimate the causal effect of eligibility on their information-seeking behaviour in a regression discontinuity design. While eligible and non-eligible respondents do not differ in their fundamental political dispositions, those allowed to vote are more likely to discuss politics with their family and friends and to use a voting advice application. This effect appears to be stronger for voting age 16 than for 18. The right to vote changes behaviour. Therefore, we cannot conclude from the behaviour of ineligible citizens that they are unfit to vote.

Arndt Leininger, Armin Schäfer, Thorsten Faas, Sigrid Roßteutscher: Coming of voting age. Evidence from a natural experiment on the effects of electoral eligibility, in: Electoral Studies, 88, 2024, Article 102751, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2024.102751.

The paper is accessible here. We also recommend the following thread (in German Language): https://twitter.com/wahlforschung/status/1763678394103869548.

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