Political Participation and Cumulative Disadvantage: The Impact of Economic and Social Hardship on Young Citizens

Julianna Sandell Pacheco, Eric Plutzer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


In this article, we seek to provide the most comprehensive exploration to date of the effects of economic and social disadvantage on young citizens' voter turnout. We look at four overlapping domains of hardship-those rooted in (a) the family context, (b) the community context, (c) the school context, and (d) major events and life transitions. Our conceptual model of cumulative advantage/disadvantage identifies the different ways in which disadvantages can have cumulative effects on social outcomes generally and on civic participation in particular. Our framework also suggests how patterns of advantage and disadvantage may he mediated by social institutions. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey, we show that disadvantages rooted in the family have major impact on all groups of young citizens and that family disadvantage interacts with school disadvantage for whites. We also show that the effects of early parenthood, being arrested, and dropping out of school have differential effects depending on race. We also show that community colleges function as civic leveling institutions-especially for A frican American youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDemocracy and Disenfranchisement
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9781405191265
StatePublished - Apr 21 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)

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