Economic and social disadvantage affect voter turnout

August 29th, 2008 - 3:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 29 (IANS) Disadvantages like early pregnancy, dropping out of high school, being arrested or going to an underprivileged school in adolescence contribute to lower voter turnout in adulthood. Julianna Sandell Pacheco and Eric Plutzer of the Pennsylvania State University used data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey to measure disadvantage and voter participation.

Hardships affected cumulative turnout of disadvantaged youth, but in a manner specific to each racial group. For Caucasian youth, early pregnancy or parenthood leads to dropping out of high school, and the combined impact of these two events result in a turnout decline of more than 30 percent.

For African-Americans, being arrested is associated with dropping out of high school, subsequently decreasing turnout by more than 30 percent.

Institutions have both a positive and negative influence on youth voter turnout, acting to both increase and decrease the impact of these disadvantages on political participation.

Whites who are poor are more likely to attend disadvantaged middle and high schools, which additively decreases turnout. Community colleges, however, increase youth voter turnout immensely among African-Americans.

“The cumulative disadvantages experienced by some youths contribute to lower voter turnout,” the authors concluded. “Rising economic segregation and economic inequality has the potential to increase political inequality in the US.”

The report was recently published in the Journal of Social Issues.

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