Political congruence between adolescence and their parents: evidence from a quasi-experimental local elections in the city of Ghent (Belgium)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonActa Politica. 2022, 58, 101-117. 10.1057/s41269-022-00236-9
Lowering the voting age is often criticized due to the alleged political immaturity of young voters, which is considered as negative for the quality of democracy. We adopt a unique approach to this issue by measuring political congruence between adolescents and their parents to ascertain whether ideological views and salient positional issues, such as attitudes on immigration, differ between different age groups in adolescence. Using a household survey in the city of Ghent (Belgium), first we compare political ideologies and attitudes toward immigration for those of age between 15 and 19, and their parents. We find that adolescent children tend to resemble the political ideologies of their parents, and they also tend to have similar attitudes about immigration. Second, we find that ideological resemblance is even higher among adolescents that regularly talk about politics with their parents. Finally, we do not find evidence that political congruence with parents differs by the age of adolescent children or their right to vote. Therefore, we conclude that political ideology and positional views are formed in an early stage of adolescence, i.e., before the age of 15. Our findings have relevance for the debate about lowering the voting age, as it points to already clearly formed ideological views and political attitudes at early stages of adolescent life.