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Youth Electoral Engagement in Canada

1. Introduction

The main objective of this report is to establish what we do and do not know about the amount and causes of youth electoral engagement (and non-engagement) in Canada. To do so, we first use census data to provide a socio-demographic profile of the youth population in Canada and to show how similar or different that profile is from that of the older population. We then use data from the Canadian Election Study (CES) for two distinct and complementary purposes. We first compare the profiles of youth voters and non-voters, in terms of both socio-demographic characteristics and a range of attitudes and behaviours such as political knowledge, political interest, community engagement and media use. We then perform a cohort analysis of voter turnout since 1965 (the beginning of the CES) to show how youth electoral participation has evolved over time. In these analyses, we distinguish two youth groups, those aged 18-24 and those  25-30 , whom we compare to all other age groups.

We finally examine the factors that seem to affect Canadian youths' decision to vote or not to vote. We briefly summarize existing research in the area, particularly in Canada but also abroad, with a view to establishing the state of knowledge, the major gaps that exist, and the most promising avenues for further research.