Politically interested people under 40 are now at least three times more likely to participate in informal politics than they were in the early 2000s but are less likely to vote, according to not-for-profit journalism organization Orb Media.
In the 2000s, 15 percent of the under 40s population both voted and participated in protests, but this number fell to 7 percent in 2017.
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Orb Media identified three main reasons for this from the people they interviewed.
Reporter Dan Morrison told WikiTribune these were that conventional politics was “compromised”, mainstream parties were “too wishy-washy in their values,” and “the trend towards centrism.”
Orb Media analyzed polling data from 979,000 respondents in 128 countries and found that those under the age of 40 were now between 9 and 17 percent more likely to participate in informal politics, like protests and online organizing, than those over 40. This was a significant increase from the early 2000s, when the younger group was only three percent more likely to protest.
The study also found that, of those who perceived their government as corrupt, under 40s were about twice as likely as over 40s to not vote, and that some countries were much more affected than others.
In Sudan, 52 percent of respondents said that corruption impacted their voting decision. In the U.S. and India, however, only 2 to 4 percent of young voters indicated corruption as a significant factor in their likelihood to vote.
Morrison said interviewed respondents described being told to keep in their place by the elders.
He said a young Zimbabwean might complain about the government’s handling of bad roading infrastructure.
“While someone of the older generation would say ‘what are you complaining about? In the older days you weren’t even allowed to walk on this road.’ That sort of dismissive attitude towards the younger people was expressed.”
The study found that globally an average of 8 percent of the eligible under 40s vote was not exercised. People under 30 also make up less than 2 percent of parliamentarians, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
However, Morrison told WikiTribune that youth led movements have also toppled a large number of governments in recent years – in Guatemala, Tunisia, Egypt and Slovakia.
“What we found was not a bunch of self absorbed 20 somethings. What we found was people who were very interested in helping their society,” he said. “But for some of them they felt conventional politics was not the way to do it… so they take their energy to the street.”
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