Are millennials transforming politics? A study on generational differences in voting


Since about the beginning the 21st century, differences in voting behaviour between young and older voters have increased sharply. Young voters seem more likely to choose either radically progressive parties or anti- immigration parties. In many countries, voters’ age has recently become one of the core demographic predictors of their party preference, even rivalling classic factors like income or educational level. Importantly, research reveals that age differences in other political orientations typically reflect people’s generation much more than their life cycle. This implies that the behaviour of today’s youngsters may be a characteristic of the millennial generation, and that they may maintain much of their preferences when they grow older. As such, millennials may fundamentally transform politics as they gradually replace older generations in future decades.However, this conclusion is still highly speculative as generational research has so far focussed mainly on things like values and turnout. Only very few generational studies have focussed on voters’ actual electoral choice, and none of these did so across a large number of countries. Furthermore, no studies have focussed on the voting behaviour of the millennial generation. It is therefore yet unknown to what extent previous findings on the importance of generational differences generalize to millennials and to voting, which may be more changeable across people’s lifespan than core values.This project will use age-period-cohort (APC) analyses on election surveys from across Europe and North America to examine if age differences in voting behaviour indeed constitute a generational divide, or if they alternatively reflect the life cycle. It hypothesizes that millennials vote more progressive on average, while a distinguishable sub-generation of lower-educated millennials contributes to the rise of anti-immigration parties. This paradox may be explained by a strong importance of issues regarding globalization and immigration for millennials on both sides of the political spectre.





Dr. R.S.B. Rekker

Verbonden aan

Universiteit van Amsterdam, Faculteit der Maatschappij- en Gedragswetenschappen, Politieke en Sociaal-Culturele Wetenschappen


01/08/2019 tot 31/07/2023