Aging Today: Is it True that Younger People are More Politically Engaged than Older People?

This post is based on Aging Today’s Minutes and Moments segment.

It depends on how you define political engagement. Take voting, for example. It is true that older Americans vote at higher rates than younger ones. According to the United States Census Bureau, 70.9% of individuals 65 and older eligible to vote cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. Only 46.1% of the eligible voters between the ages of 18 to 29 voted in the same election. It is also true that younger Americans tend to participate in more protests than older ones. This, in part, is because teenagers and young adults typically have fewer obligations than those over 30, who often are juggling work, family, caregiving and their own health and well-being. However, we should not make sweeping generalizations about political engagement. Sociologists find that there are generational differences in political engagement. Baby boomers, particularly those who came of age during the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, are more politically engaged than earlier and later generations. Additionally, social scientists are finding that the Covid-19 pandemic, protests in response to the government’s handling of it, as well as protests in response to the killing of George Floyd seem to be broadening the age range of politically engaged Americans.  

You can listen to more Minutes and Moments on Aging Today.

Dr. Rohlinger is a Professor of Sociology, a Director of Research for the Institute of Politics, a Research Associate in the Pepper Institute of Aging and Public Policy, and an Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Community Engagement at Florida State University. You can learn more about Dr. Rohlinger here.

The feature image is from Pexels.

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