Young people who feel informed about politics are more likely to vote, new research reveals

New research by Young Citizens reveals that young people who feel informed about politics are more likely to vote and trust politicians.

The findings come after Labour, The Liberal Democrats and The Green Party all promised to lower the voting age to 16 in their manifestos.

We surveyed some 1,600 young people aged 14 to 18 on their attitudes towards citizenship, democracy and making a difference in society.

Seventy one percent of young people said they would vote in the upcoming General Election if they could, of which 78% felt informed about political issues. Amongst those who said they would not vote, this dropped to just 36%.

The research also revealed that 14- to 18-year-olds who feel informed about political parties and candidates are more likely to trust politicians.

Just over half of all respondents felt informed about party politics, 23% of whom said they trusted politicians. In cases where young people did not feel informed about political parties and candidates, just 5% put their trust in politicians.

When asked about the best ways to make a difference in society, young people rated voting in elections to be the most important (52%), closely followed by talking to people about current affairs issues (49%) and signing petitions (48%). Just 16% thought that joining a political party would help to make a difference to society.

The findings come after research by UK charities found that 70% of young people under 18 years old do not know the name of their MP. Academics have recently argued that better citizenship education could help young people to become more politically aware.

Focus group participant Chloe, aged 16, said: “As a politics student, I would vote because I have developed an awareness of what is going on, but before I don’t think I would. School relies on our parents to educate us, but if our parents don’t have very good habits, how are we meant to do well?”

Focus group participant Olivia, aged 16, said: “We’ve been taught a bit about citizenship, but I think the main issue is how fragmented it is. We’re taught snatches, and none of it really seems to connect. It’s not continuous. A dedicated subject where we went through it continuously would be really useful.”

Sherine Krause, Interim Executive Director at Young Citizens, said: “Our research shows a direct link between political literacy and young people’s motivation to participate in democratic processes. This demonstrates a huge knowledge gap that is holding back a generation of highly capable and passionate young people. With the voting age potentially being lowered by a new government, it is vital that we have more teaching about politics and democracy in schools to give young people a grounding from an early age.”


About the survey

The survey was conducted by Young Citizens with a sample of 1,627 young people aged 14 to 18 in England between 1st November and 1st December 2023. Eight focus groups were conducted with students aged 11 to 18 in schools and colleges across England.


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