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Voting at 16: Does lowering the voting age lead to more political engagement? Evidence from a quasi-experiment in the city of Ghent (Belgium)

Dieter Stiers, Marc Hooghe and Ruth Dassonneville

Political Science Research and Methods, 2021, vol. 9, issue 4, 849-856

Abstract: While youth suffrage is widely debated, the causal effects of being eligible to vote on adolescents' political attitudes are less well known. To gain insights into this question, we leverage data from a real-life quasi-experiment of voting at 16 in the city of Ghent (Belgium). We compare the attitudes of adolescents that were entitled to vote with their peers that just fell below the age cut-off. We also examine the effects of the enfranchisement at 18-years-old. While we find an effect of youth enfranchisement on attention to politics, there is no evidence for an effect of enfranchisement on political engagement overall.

Date: 2021
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