Education and Political Participation

Claire Willeck, Tali Mendelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Whether education affects political participation is a long-standing and central question in political philosophy and political science. In this review, we provide an overview of the three main theoretical models that explain different causal pathways. We then synthesize the surge in research using causal inference strategies and show that this literature has generated mixed results about the causal impact of education, even when using similar methods and data. These findings do not provide clear support for any of the three theories. Our next section covers research on civic education and political participation. The quantity of civic education matters little for political participation, but how civic education is taught does matter. Namely, strategies falling under the rubric of active learning show promise. These strategies seem especially effective for historically marginalized students. Our final section calls for more research on how civic education is taught.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-110
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Political Science
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • active learning
  • civic education
  • education
  • political participation


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