Age over youth?  How the ‘grandfather effect’ is shaping world politics

Age over youth? How the ‘grandfather effect’ is shaping world politics


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As millennial and post-millennial voters become the largest group of voters worldwide, experts at Flinders University warn that the ‘grandfather effect’ has seen people from older generations retain or be elected to office. at an advanced age.

This follows a new study of 1,000 young voters that has broken the myth that younger voters prefer younger political leaders, which is evident with only a handful of world leaders who are under 39.

The political science study found that age (up to 70 and older) and experience won the vote among young people, as long as older candidates have center-left policies that support the positions of younger voters on social issues. and identity.

“Although older candidates with left-wing politics were preferred, this was often, but not necessarily, the case for younger candidates,” says Flinders University Associate Professor Rodrigo Praino, an analyst of voting behavior at the Faculty Business, Government and Law.

“We set out to explore why younger voters are attracted to older male candidates in more than one advanced Western democracy, raising questions about whether there is something ‘different’ in the voting habits of millennials and post-millennials.”

While large numbers of young voters support young leaders running for office, such as Jacinda Adern in New Zealand in 2020, they may also show strong support for relatively older candidates such as Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, and even candidates. over the age of 80, such as the deputy of the German Greens, Hans-Christian Ströbele.

“Our study shows that millennials and post-millennials do not appear to display any kind of intergenerational bias against older candidates,” says Associate Professor Praino.

“In other words, today’s young voters seem happy to support older candidates, as long as their political stances are in line with what young voters feel is important to them.”

Millennials or Gen Y voters born between 1981 and 1996 are now in their 20s and 30s, and post-millennials (Gen Z) born between 1997 and 2012 are entering voting power. They follow the Gen X (1965-1980) and Boomer generations, many of whom are retired or nearing retirement.

The Flinders University study shows that, contrary to the descriptive representation literature, young voters are “significantly more likely to support older candidates if they know that these candidates espouse broad leftist policies,” says co-author Dr. Professor Charlie Lees, now based at the University of London.

“Other things being equal, younger voters don’t prefer younger candidates to older candidates,” he says.

The study sought to understand the participation of younger voters and their participation in the political process to examine a possible greater representation of younger citizens in positions of power and decision-making at the national level.

“Although young voters are often described as disinterested and uninterested in mainstream political participation, it is known that they can be mobilized in remarkable and unconventional ways,” the researchers conclude.

The article is published in the International Journal of Political Science.

More information:
Charles Lees et al, Young Voters, Older Candidates, and Political Preferences: Evidence from Two Experiments, International Journal of Political Science (2022). DOI: 10.1177/01925121221139544

Provided by Flinders University

Citation: Age over youth? How the ‘grandfather effect’ is shaping world politics (January 25, 2023) Retrieved January 25, 2023 from world.html

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