Youve either got it or you dont? the stability of political interest over the life cycle

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Some people are more politically interested than others, but political scientists do not know how stable these differences are and why they occur. This paper examines stability in political interest. Eleven different panel surveys taken in four different countries over 40 years are used to measure stability. Several studies include a much larger number of interview wavesup to 23than commonly used panels. The analysis empirically characterizes the stability of interest over time using a model that accounts for measurement error and a dynamic panel model. The large number of panel waves makes it possible to relax many restrictive assumptions to ensure robustness. With one exception (Germany reunification), political interest is exceptionally stable in the short run and over long periods of time. Hence, this study provides strong justification for efforts to understand how political interest forms among young people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-766
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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