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Youth Electoral Engagement in Canada

Executive Summary

Youth electoral engagement in Canada is declining. Despite this, we do not know much about the causes of this decline.

Using census data, this report provides a profile of youth in Canada. This demonstrates the most important differences between those under 30 years of age and those over 30. We then consider the relationship between various factors and the decision to vote among Canadian youth. Following this, we perform a cohort analysis to show how youth electoral participation has evolved over time. In these analyses, we distinguish two youth groups, those aged 18-24 and those  25-30 , whom we compare to all other age groups. We finally examine the factors that seem to affect Canadian youths' decision to vote or not to vote. We briefly summarize existing research in the area, particularly in Canada but also abroad, with a view to establishing the state of knowledge, the major gaps that exist and the most promising avenues for further research.

We find that Canadian youth are different from their older counterparts. They are less likely to be married, somewhat better educated and slightly less religious. They earn less income. But they are more likely to have been born in Canada.

Of these socio-demographic factors, education and origin (i.e. being born in Canada) are the most powerful predictors of voting. But the most crucial determinants are interest in politics and information about politics. Our cohort analysis suggests that most of the decline in voter turnout is attributable to decline among younger generations. After reviewing the current knowledge on the causes of declining youth turnout, we suggest future studies that could identify solutions to address this decline.