Voting at 16 in Practice: A Review of the Austrian Case

Julian Aichholzer, Sylvia Kritzinger

This chapter reviews the case of Austria, a country that has implemented a general voting age of 16 in 2007, in an effort to assess the medium-term real-world impact of this policy measure. After providing a review of Austria’s policy implementation and the existing research on voting at 16, novel data is presented that allows for a comparison of 16- and 17-year-olds to older voter cohorts on several important political indicators. Overall, the evidence is encouraging to supporters of voting age 16. Even though 16- to 17-year-olds exhibit somewhat lower general interest in politics and lower internal efficacy, turnout is generally higher compared to older first-time voters and similar to the electorate’s average, they follow electoral campaigns to the same extent as do other young voters, and they exhibit considerably high levels of external efficacy and satisfaction with democracy. The chapter closes by discussing implications of the results for policymakers as well as avenues for further research on the long-term impact of implementing a voting age of 16.

Department of Government
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Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
Political systems
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