Becoming a Habitual Voter: Inertia, Resources, and Growth in Young Adulthood

  title={Becoming a Habitual Voter: Inertia, Resources, and Growth in Young Adulthood},
  author={Eric Plutzer},
  journal={American Political Science Review},
  pages={41 - 56}
  • E. Plutzer
  • Published 1 March 2002
  • Psychology
  • American Political Science Review
This paper reframes our inquiry into voter turnout by making aging the lens through which the traditional resource and cost measures of previous turnout research are viewed, thereby making three related contributions. (1) I offer a developmental theory of turnout. This framework follows from the observation that most citizens are habitual voters or habitual nonvoters (they display inertia). Most young citizens start their political lives as habitual nonvoters but they vary in how long it takes… Expand
Age, Experience and the Contextual Determinants of Turnout: A Deeper Look at the Process of Habit Formation in Electoral Participation
Abstract I test two potential mechanisms driving habitual voting: direct self-reinforcement of turnout and social ageing. I do so by critically examining a hypothesis proposed by Franklin who arguesExpand
Under circumstances of substantial turnout reductions, like those in the Costa Rican case in the last decade, the possibility that many more voters cultivate ‘habitual voting’ may constitute a keyExpand
Beyond individual characteristics: Generational differences in redistribution preferences∗
The body of work focused on attitudes towards the welfare state has produced a number of important insights into how citizens differ in their preferences on income redistribution. Existing researchExpand
Breaking a habit
Turnout and party choice are widely held to be habitual, but little attention has been paid to factors that disrupt the pattern. Good health is an important determinant of political behaviour and aExpand
Election Closeness, Habit Formation and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Sixteen Swedish Elections
The developmental model of voter turnout posits that the propensity to vote (or abstain) is a habit acquired during the period of a young adult's socialisation to the electoral process. OnceExpand
Revisiting the political life-cycle model: later maturation and turnout decline among young adults
  • Kaat Smets
  • Psychology
  • European Political Science Review
  • 2015
Turnout among young adults has declined steadily in various advanced industrial democracies in recent decades. At the same time, as a consequence of delayed transitions to adulthood, many life-cycleExpand
Breaking a habit: The impact of health on turnout and party choice
Turnout and party choice are widely held to be habitual, but little attention has been paid to factors that disrupt the pattern. Good health is an important determinant of political behaviour and aExpand
Generational Basis of Turnout Decline in Established Democracies
Voting is a habit. People learn the habit of voting, or not, based on experience in their first few elections. Recent research has shown that elections that do not stimulate high turnout among youngExpand
Lifecycle changes and the activation of habitual voting: The case of Costa Rica
Under circumstances of substantial turnout reductions, the development of electoral habits may constitute a key factor to attenuate or even revert such tendency in the long term. Using a uniqueExpand
What shapes the dynamics of citizens’ satisfaction of democracy?
Latent growth curve (LGC) models are a powerful and flexible approach to study individuallevel developments of political attitudes and behaviour. They are especially useful whenever individuals areExpand


The First Seven Years of the Political Life Cycle
One of the most noteworthy characteristics of American elections is the low turnout of young people. Hypotheses purporting to explain this phenomenon focus on life-cycle transitions that defineExpand
Structure, Behavior, and Voter Turnout in the United States
Electoral participation in the United States is examined to provide a clearer account of the effect of the registration requirement on individual voting behavior. Pooling NES data from 1980, 1984,Expand
Political Involvement in the Later Years: A Longitudinal Survey
Three main perspectives have been developed about the political involvement of aging citizens. Disengagement theory suggests declining participation; selective withdrawal points toward ageappropriateExpand
Life Span Civic Development and Voting Participation.
Although a variety of age-related processes are known to affect rates of political participation over the adult life span, little is known about their interrelationships and relative impact. We setExpand
Residential Mobility and Voter Turnout
We examine the characteristics of a largely ignored low-turnout group—people who have recently moved. We find that neither demographic nor attitudinal attributes explain their lower turnout. Instead,Expand
The Structuring Principle: Political Socialization and Belief Systems
This paper assesses the theoretical significance of data on childhood political learning. Two socialization models are involved. Each confers relevance on childhood learning by linking it withExpand
The New American Voter
In this study, Warren E. Miller and J. Merrill Shanks present a comprehensive, authoritative analysis of American voting patterns from 1952 through the early 1990s, with special emphasis on the 1992Expand
The Structure of Electoral Political Participation
Research on electoral political participation frequently combines voting and campaing activity into a single scale and adopts the Michigan social-psychological perspective on political behavior.Expand
Rational Choice and Turnout
Turning out to vote is the most common and important act of political participation in any democracy. Voting is also less well understood and explained empirically than other political acts engagedExpand
Making It Count: The Improvement of Social Research and Theory.
This title re-examines and reconsiders the model of empirical research underlying most empirical work. The goal is neither a whitewash nor capital punishment, but rather it is to reform and moldExpand