Childhood Volunteering Predicts Adult Voting Trends

Volunteering in the community as a child can encourage political activism and voting trends as an adult, according to research from the University of Exeter using the UK Household Longitudinal Survey.

What to know:

  • Children from politically disengaged households in the United Kingdom were less likely to volunteer, whereas three quarters of children of engaged parents were also politically active, with almost a third of them reporting volunteering efforts.

  • Community action by children encourages those from politically disengaged homes to become more interested in politics and to see voting as a civic duty later in life.

  • Attitudes about political interest and duty both had strong and significant effects on vote likelihood, while volunteering had a positive but weak effect on feelings about duty to vote.

  • Teenagers who were raised in politically disengaged households and had never or rarely volunteered were found to become more interested in politics and committed to voting if they became involved in volunteering.

  • Volunteering exposes children to political issues and institutions in their community; exposes them to other more politically engaged individuals; and increases their attachment to that community, findings which are suggestive of relationships in other Western Democracies.

This is a summary of the article “Social action as a route to the ballot box: Can youth volunteering reduce inequalities in turnout?” in the European Journal of Political Research on March 7, 2023. The full article can be found on

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