Age and Turnout in New Electorates and Peasant Societies

  • Niemi R
  • Barkan J
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In established electorates in developed countries, voting turnout has a familiar curvilinear relationship with age. In new electorates, however, lack of experience and supposed resistance to new behavior among middle-aged voters suggest that turnout might be greater among the young. In peasant societies, the start-up costs that reduce turnout among young adults might not apply because of immobility of the population and resulting familiarity with local politics. Data from an early election in rural Kenya and from rural Turkey show that the familiar relationship holds even in these circumstances. The results suggest that increased electoral experience and resistance to newly available behavior do little to shape turnout. Mobility of the young, even in peasant populations, and psychological factors associated with aging are more powerful elements.

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  • Richard G. Niemi

  • Joel D. Barkan

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