The invisible generation

According to a new estimate from Elections Canada, 37.4 of Canadians aged 18-24 voted in the 2008 federal election.

At 58.8 percent, the official turnout at the October 14, 2008 general election is the lowest turnout rate in a federal general election since Confederation. As was noted in Elections Canada’s previous studies of voter turnout by age group2, the decline in Canadian electoral participation has been the focus of considerable academic research and analysis, particularly since the 2000 federal general election. While such research has identified a number of factors related to non-participation, the major reason for the decline in Canadian voter turnout over the past two decades can be traced to the continuing drop-off in voting among the youngest cohorts of electors. As confirmed most recently by Blais and Loewen (2009), there has been a persistent downward trend in the turnout rate of new cohorts of electors, beginning in the 1970s. Coupled with a noticeable decline in the life-cycle effect over the same time period, the result is that younger generations of electors are no longer replacing older generations at rates that are sufficient to maintain overall levels of turnout.

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