New report debunks myths about youth apathy towards politics
Despite assumptions that youth are apathetic toward politics, a new report shows that young voters more likely to participate in the political process than older Canadians.
The report released Wednesday by Samara Canada, a non-partisan charity devoted to increasing civic engagement, debunks misconceptions that youth are more politically apathetic than other generations.
“The generation of young Canadians whom we looked at … are characterized as being apathetic, sometimes lazy, toward political life in Canada,” Samara Canada Executive Director Jane Hilderman told CTV News Channel Wednesday.
“I think it’s a disservice to call the millennial generation an apathetic one.”
Hilderman said the organization wanted to take a deeper look at the youth vote, beyond the well-known low voter turnout numbers.
According to the report, Canadians ages 18 to 29 participate in civic and political indicators, such as campaigns, volunteering and petitions, at a rate of 11 percentage points higher than those 30 and older.
But that youth participation doesn’t translate into votes, the study found, as low voter turnout still exists amongst Canadians under 30. The report, titled “Message Not Delivered,” examined one of the catalysts for voter turnout: contact between Canadians and political leaders.
Samara found that political leaders, including federal parties, candidates and MPs, are not reaching out to young voters as often as they do with older Canadians. In a 12-month period leading up to December 2014, only 55 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 29 said they were contacted by a political party or candidate, compared to 75 per cent of Canadians aged 56 and older.
And the report found that outreach is linked to voting and political awareness. For instance, of the respondents contacted by a political leader via email, phone, mail, social media or in person, 55 per cent believe they are affected by elected officials’ decisions every day; only 23 per cent who reported no contact agreed with that statement.
Hilderman says the data should be used an incentive for political parties to reach out to younger voters.
“I think that’s one avenue we could see actually parties and candidates improve on in this election, which is doing more outreach to young people to invite their participation at the ballot box,” said Hilderman.