Public Release: 

Economic and social disadvantage can affect young citizens' voter turnout

Wiley

University Park, PA - August 27, 2008 - A study recently published in the Journal of Social Issues illustrates how certain disadvantages experienced in adolescence, such as early pregnancy, dropping out of high school, being arrested, or going to an underprivileged school, contribute to lower voter turnout in young adulthood. In addition, the types of disadvantage vary across racial groups.

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 White youth, early pregnancy or parenthood leads to dropping out of high school, and the combined impact of these two events resulting in a turnout decline of more than 30 percent. For Blacks, 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 Blacks.

"The cumulative disadvantages experienced by some youths contribute to lower voter turnout," the authors conclude. "Rising economic segregation and economic inequality has the potential to increase political inequality in the United States."

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This study is published in the September 2008 issue of the Journal of Social Issues. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Julianna Sandell Pacheco is affiliated with The Pennsylvania State University and can be reached for questions at jls644@psu.edu.

Journal of Social Issues (JSI) brings behavioral and social science theory, empirical evidence, and practice to bear on human and social problems. Each issue of JSI focuses on a single topic - recent issues, for example, have addressed poverty, housing and health; privacy as a social and psychological concern; youth and violence; and the impact of social class on education.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com or http://interscience.wiley.com .

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