Objective: Research on political socialization has shown that political and civic experiences during high school can impact later political engagement. However, political scientists are increasingly realizing that nonpolitical experiences, dispositions, and attributes in childhood and adolescence can play a role in shaping political participation. Building on recent studies in developmental psychology, we examine whether and how student characteristics and behaviors in adolescence are related to political engagement in adulthood. Methods: Using data from the Project Talent study, a national longitudinal study of a representative sample of high school students in the United States, we find that several behaviors and attributes related to one's high school experience have long-term effects on voter turnout. Results: Responsible students and those with high levels of interest in school are more likely than their counterparts to vote when they reach adulthood. Conclusion: The effects of the school-related measures we examine (1) persist for more than a decade after high school ends, (2) are similar in magnitude to the effects of classic predictors of political engagement such as parental political activism, and (3) hold even in the presence of controls for general personality traits, cognitive ability, resources such as parental socioeconomic status, socialization experiences, and demographic variables. Our results have implications for how to increase political participation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)