NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

World's Youths Skeptical of Politics

March 16, 2001

A new survey reveals that four out of five 14-year-old students in 28 democratic countries do not plan on participating in a political party when they reach adulthood. But they concede that voting and obeying the law are essential to good citizenship.

The study was released by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The 28 countries that participated in the survey were comprised of long-standing democracies, as well as countries which have recently thrown off oppressive governments.

  • The study found that the more knowledgeable students are about the democratic process, the more likely they would be to vote when they are adults.
  • Those surveyed were more willing to participate in social causes and charities, and were more supportive of the economic and political rights of women than their counterparts who were surveyed in 1971.
  • Students from countries with less than a 40-year democratic history showed lower levels of trust in their governments.
  • Students in 10 countries -- including the U.S., Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia -- scored very high in the realm of general knowledge of democracy.

But in the section concerning attitudes toward voter involvement and activism, Chilean, Colombian and Romanian students showed the greatest impetus for civic participation and engagement.

American students scored above the international average for intent to vote, as well.

Source: Bethany Warner, "Study of Young Teens Finds Civics Ranks Low," Washington Times, March 16, 2001.


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