Klasse, Themen, Kontext: Wer wählt die Alternative für Deutschland?

Von Achim Goerres, Dennis C. Spies, Staffan Kumlin

„Neue Arbeiterpartei“, „Volkspartei“ oder „Partei der Globalisierungsverlierer“? In einer Analyse wird untersucht, wie sich die Wählerschaft der Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) zusammensetzt. Während regionale Unterschiede kaum eine Rolle spielen, zeigt sich, dass neben kulturellen auch wirtschaftliche Überzeugungen einen grossen Einfluss haben können. Die Studie zu diesem Beitrag finden Sie hier.

Die Anfang 2013 gegründete Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) muss bereits aus heutiger Perspektive als eine der elektoral erfolgreichsten Parteineugründungen der bundesrepublikanischen Geschichte gelten. Während die AfD bei ihrer ersten Bundestagswahl die für die parlamentarische Repräsentation notwendige Fünf-Prozent-Hürde knapp verfehlte, konnte sie – trotz intensiv geführter parteiinterner Auseinandersetzungen – zuletzt bei der Bundestagswahl 2017 12,6% aller Stimmen auf sich vereinen und ist nun in 14 von 16 Landtagen vertreten. Angesichts ihres anhaltenden Wahlerfolgs und ihrer polarisierenden, EU-skeptischen und migrationsfeindlichen Programmatik, ist es wenig überraschend, dass die AfD auch in der Parteien- und Wahlforschung auf grossßes Interesse gestoßen ist. Weiterlesen

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Masterstudium in Leiden, Niederlande – ein Erfahrungsbericht

Von Marius Müller

Marius Müller, ehemaliger Student (BA Politikwissenschaft) der Universität Duisburg-Essen, gibt einen kurzen Einblick, warum er sich letztes Jahr für den einjährigen Masterstudiengang International Politics an der Universität Leiden (Niederlande) entschieden hat. Darüber hinaus blickt er zurück darauf, welche Aspekte der Studienzeit in Leiden das vergangene Jahr für ihn zu einer positiven Erfahrung gemacht haben, aber nennt auch kritische Punkte, die zukünftige Studenten in Leiden berücksichtigen sollten. Weiterlesen

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Die (derzeitigen) Ergebnisse der Migrantenwahlstudie im Video

Am 06. Juni 2018 war Prof. Achim Goerres in der interdisziplinären Ringvorlesung der Universität Duisburg-Essen “Die kleine Form” zu Gast und präsentierte die derzeitigen Ergebnisse der Migrantenwahlstudie. Das Video davon gibt es jetzt hier im Blog zu sehen:

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Politicians in ageing democracies are catering to a grey interest constituency that does not exist

This essay is the last in a series written by Achim Goerres for the project “Ageing Democracies? Political Participation and Cultural Values Among the Elderly in Europe” financed by the Open Society Foundation. The complete project report with all essays and the reports written by the other project members can be found here. 

“With 20 million voters over the age of 50, isn’t it time politicians stopped just kissing babies?”

Age Concern England, 2005 British General Election Campaign

The above quotation is a typical example taken from an election campaign by an organisation representing the particular interests of elderly people. In many European countries, there are several of such organisations that provide social help or promote self-help for older people. These social old-age interest organisations tend to have at least small political offices that try to influence political outcomes. However, they are mostly social organisations providing club benefits to its members. There are no systematic analyses of these old age interest organisations across Europe yet. They tend to be much smaller in size and in political influence compared to the Association for Retired Persons in the United States, most likely due to Europe’s stronger trade unions. However, some of these organisations have a large number of members benefitting from various club goods, such as cheaper insurance. For instance, DaneAge in Denmark had 650,000 members in 2014 (28% of citizens aged 50 and over). The historical roots of these organisations do not lie in the dynamics of accelerated population ageing since the 1970s, but very often in the veterans’ organisations and pensioners’ organisations of the first half of the 20th century (for details see Doyle 2015: chap. 3). Weiterlesen

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How the young get more than the elderly out of society – but not out of the state

Pieter Vanhuysse, University of Southern Denmark

Accusations levelled against the baby boomer generation for hoarding too much wealth and wielding too much “grey power” in an age of “gerontocracy” have become commonplace across Europe. At the centre of this debate lies the question of what resources different generations pass on to each other – and what is fair.

But in a new research paper on intergenerational transfers, demographers Robert Gal, Lili Vargha and I argue that it’s misleading to portray older people as benefiting more from society than younger people. Weiterlesen

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There will never be a political age conflict between the young and the old.

This essay is the fifth in a series written by Achim Goerres for the project “Ageing Democracies? Political Participation and Cultural Values Among the Elderly in Europe” financed by the Open Society Foundation. The complete project report with all essays and the reports written by the other project members can be found here. In this essay Achim Goerres argues that there is no such thing as an age cleavage, and that it is highly unlikely to ever become a conflict line along to which the political system organises. Weiterlesen

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Migranten auf dem Stimmzettel: Eine Vignettenanalyse zur Untersuchung der Wirkung der ethnischen Herkunft von politischen Kandidaten in Verbindung mit weiteren Kandidateneigenschaften auf die Kandidatenevaluation der Wähler

Von Erik Wenker

Dem Beitrag liegt die Bachelorarbeit des Autors zugrunde, die am Lehrstuhl für Empirische Politikwissenschaft von Dr. Sabrina Mayer und Prof. Dr. Achim Goerres betreut wurde.

Während Migranten medial, politisch und wissenschaftlich zunehmend als relevante Wählergruppe wahrgenommen werden und auf dem politischen Parkett ankommen, um beispielsweise als Parteivorsitzende zu amtieren (Street 2014: 375), sind sie in Deutschland und Europa gleichzeitig parlamentarisch unterrepräsentiert (Bird/Saalfeld/Wüst 2011; Bloemraad/Schönwälder 2013). Weiterlesen

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Welchen Einfluss haben persönliche Veränderungen auf die Bereitschaft nicht-institutionell politisch zu partizipieren?

von Florian Gerls.

Die Teilhabe am politischen Prozess ist zweifellos Grundpfeiler einer jeden Demokratie. Klassisch durch Wahlen realisiert fand in den 60er und 70er Jahren des letzten Jahrhunderts eine Zunahme von, bis dahin als unkonventionell bezeichneten, Formen politischer Partizipation statt. Demonstrationen, Bürgerinitiativen und Unterschriftenaktionen wurden zunehmend als Möglichkeit zur Ergänzung und später auch als Alternative zur Beteiligung an Wahlen eingeschätzt. Es lässt sich also eine Forderung nach weiteren politischen Einflussmöglichkeiten zu dieser Zeit konstatieren, welche schon von Willy Brand in seiner Regierungserklärung mit den Worten „Mehr Demokratie wagen“ aufgegriffen wurde. Heutzutage scheint die Teilnahme an Demonstrationen, das Unterschreiben von Petitionen und ein Engagement in Bürgerinitiativen, welche sich als Formen nicht-institutionalisierter Partizipation benennen lassen, beinahe selbstverständlich in der politischen Auseinandersetzung zu sein.

Auch wenn etwa bei Demonstrationen gegen Stuttgart 21 partizipierende Personen abwertend als „Wutbürger“ bezeichnet wurden, so liegen genannten Partizipationsinstrumenten wichtige demokratische Potentiale wie etwa eine Ventilfunktion zugrunde (Wagschal 2015; S.99). Zudem können durch nicht verfasste Formen politischer Partizipation bestimmte Interessen zum Ausdruck gebracht und diese anschließend in den politischen Prozess eingespeist werden (Lauth; Pickel; Pickel 2014; S.248). Daneben wird die Unzufriedenheit mit der „politischen Klasse“ besser identifiziert, was eine Stärkung der Demokratie zur Folge hat (Offe 2012; S.43). Auf Basis der Funktionen für die Demokratie als solche ist es wenig verwunderlich, dass nicht-institutionalisierte politische Partizipation schon vor einiger Zeit in den politikwissenschaftlichen Fokus gerückt ist.

Auffallend dabei ist, dass in der Fülle an Studien der Forschungsgegenstand vorwiegend im Querschnitt analysiert wird. In diesen wird untersucht, inwieweit Unterschiede bezüglich verschiedener Merkmale zwischen Menschen die Partizipationsbereitschaft selbiger beeinflussen. Doch zweifelsohne variieren viele für die Partizipation wichtige Merkmale im Lebensverlauf einer Person. Der Notwendigkeit, den Einfluss von individuellen Veränderungen auf die Bereitschaft nicht-institutionalisiert zu partizipieren zu untersuchen, wurde in der bisherigen Forschung bei weitem nicht zur Genüge Rechnung getragen, sodass eine Forschungslücke konstatiert werden muss. Doch über diese wissenschaftsinterne Notwendigkeit hinaus ergeben sich auch gesellschaftliche und politische Anforderungen, einen methodischen Perspektivwechsel vorzunehmen, um ein Gefühl dafür zu erlangen, an welchen Stellen politische Maßnahmen greifen könnten, um zu verhindern, dass Veränderungen der Lebenslagen von Menschen ihr Partizipationspotential negativ beeinflussen.

Aus der Literatur lassen sich drei Gruppen von möglichen Einflussfaktoren herausarbeiten. Die erste Gruppe umfasst soziodemografische Merkmale, wie etwa Bildung, Alter und Einkommen. Bereits in der Studie Participation in America, welche von Verba und Nie vorgelegt wurde, ließ sich ein nicht unwesentlicher Effekt postulieren (Verba; Nie 1987). Das entworfene sozioökonomische Standardmodell implizierte, dass Menschen mit höherem sozioökonomischem Status eher partizipieren als Menschen mit geringem Status. Hierauf aufbauend wurde (1995) von Verba, Schlozman und Brady das Civic-Voluntarism-Modell entwickelt. Über einen entscheidenden Einfluss von sozioökonomischen Ressourcen hinaus wurde auch ein Effekt von Motivationen und politischen Orientierungen auf die Partizipation eines Individuums suggeriert. In meiner Arbeit habe ich die Gruppe von Determinanten durch eine Auswahl von Variablen politischer Unterstützung (Easton 1965), (Norris 1999) und (Pickel; Pickel 2016) ergänzt. Die letzte theoretisch interessante Merkmalsgruppe umfasst Variablen, die die Integration eines Individuums in soziale Netzwerke darstellen. Die Wichtigkeit der sozialen Kontakte auf die Partizipationsbereitschaft fußt ebenfalls auf den Überlegungen des Civic-Voluntarism-Modells.

Um das Forschungsvorhaben zu realisieren, wurde auf einen Individualdatensatz der Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009 zurückgegriffen. Ein aufaddierter Index von zwei Variablen, welche die Bereitschaft an einer Demonstration teilzunehmen und die Bereitschaft sich in einer Bürgerinitiative zu engagieren messen, wurde als abhängige Variable verwendet. Ein höherer Wert stellt eine höhere Partizipationsbereitschaft dar. Für die Determinanten wurde zum großen Teil auf gängige Operationalisierungen zurückgegriffen. Gegeben des Forschungsinteresses wurden verschiedene Arten von Panelregressionstechniken (Random Effects-, First Difference- und Fixed Effects Regression) verwendet. Gerade letztgenannte bieten den wesentlichen Vorteil, unbeobachtete Heterogenität zu kontrollieren. Dies bedeutet, dass Effekte von unbeobachteten Drittvariablen auf die interessierenden statistischen Beziehungen ausgekoppelt und dadurch kausale Effekte besser gesichert werden können. In einer Random Effects Regression werden auch Unterschiede zwischen Personen erfasst. Diese Technik ist also als Kompromiss eines Längsschnitt- und eines Querschnittmodells zu verstehen. Zusätzlich wurden sogenannte gepoolte Modelle berechnet, in welchen Quer- und Längsschnittdaten zusammengefasst werden und welche als OLS-Regressionsmodelle zu interpretieren sind. Dies wurde deshalb realisiert, damit reine Längsschnitteffekte mit Querschnittseffekten unmittelbar verglichen werden können. Für Leserinnen und Leser, die in dem Umgang mit den verwendeten Regressionstechniken nicht vertraut sind, befindet sich im Anhang eine Interpretationshilfe.

Abbildung 1
Abbildung 1: Verteilung der abhängigen Variable. Anmerkung: Die gelbe vertikale Linie ist der Mittelwert, die rote Linie stellt den Median dar. Quelle: Eigene Darstellung und Berechnung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009

Aus meiner empirischen Analyse ging eine Vielzahl interessanter Befunde hervor. Zunächst ist hervorzuheben, dass sich die Betrachtung der Längsschnittdimension in allen berechneten Modellen statistisch lohnt. Gerade das Modell mit politischen Orientierungen, Unterstützung und Interessen weist ein hohes Erklärungspotential auf. Als besonders relevant für die Erklärung einer Variation im individuellen Partizipationsverhalten zeigt sich die Wichtigkeit postmaterialistischer Werte. Ernüchternd ist jedoch, dass die Modelle zwar im Ganzen signifikant sind, sich die Effekte einzelner Variablen jedoch häufig nicht bei gängigen Signifikanzniveaus absichern lassen. Umso interessanter ist es, die signifikanten Längsschnitteffekte (Fixed Effects Modell) hervor zu heben. Querschnittsbefunde, die nahelegen, dass eine höhere Bildung das Partizipationsverhalten steigert, kann für die Längsschnittdimension nicht ohne Einschränkungen übertragen werden. Zwar haben alle Koeffizienten der Dummy Variablen, die alle eine höhere Bildung darstellen als die Referenzgruppe (noch Schüler, kein Abschluss oder Hauptschulabschluss), positive Vorzeichen, jedoch lässt sich der Effekt nur bei der Dummy Variable „Mittlere Reife“ hinreichend absichern. Der Effekt des Haushaltseinkommens hingegen ist in allen Modellen signifikant und positiv. Das heißt, eine positive Veränderung des Haushaltseinkommens hat im Schnitt auch eine positive Veränderung der Partizipationsbereitschaft zur Folge. Besonders unerwartet sind die Befunde bei der Schichtzugehörigkeit von Personen. Ein sozialer Aufstieg von der Arbeiterschicht in die Mittel- und auch in die Oberschicht vermindert tendenziell die Bereitschaft nicht-institutionell zu partizipieren.

Part.Index

(OLS)

(RE)

(FE)

Bildung (RG geringe Bildung)
   Mittlere Reife

0.53***

0.56***

0.37*

(0.09)

(0.09)

(0.21)

   Abitur

1.24***

1.23***

0.40

(0.12)

(0.12)

(0.27)

   Studium (Uni/FH)

1.42***

1.36***

0.38

(0.11)

(0.12)

(0.29)

Haushaltseinkommen

0.05***

0.05***

0.06***

(0.01)

(0.01)

(0.02)

Schicht (RG Arbeiterschicht)
   Mittelschicht

0.09

0.07

-0.29**

(0.08)

(0.08)

(0.14)

   Oberschicht

-0.30

-0.22

-0.82**

(0.25)

(0.24)

(0.40)

Alter

0.06***

0.05***

0.04

(0.01)

(0.01)

(0.04)

Alter quadriert

-0.001***

-0.001***

-0.0002

(0.0001)

(0.0001)

(0.0004)

Konfession

-0.12

-0.08

-0.02

(0=konfessionslos, 1=in Konfession

(0.08)

(0.08)

(0.21)

Konstante

4.68***

4.86***

(0.27)

(0.29)

Beobachtungen

4,806

4,806

4,806

R2

0.13

0.08

0.01

Angepasstes R2

0.13

0.08

0.01

F Statistik

79.09***

(df = 9; 4796)

41.03***

(df = 9; 4796)

2.34**

(df = 9; 1534)

Tabelle 1: Soziodemografisches Modell. Anmerkung: *p<0.1; **p<0.05; ***p<0.01; Quelle: Eigene Berechnung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009

Die Effekte des politischen Interesses, der Wichtigkeit postmaterialistischer Werte und der Zufriedenheit mit der Regime Performance sind hypothesenkonform und signifikant und stimmen zudem in allen Modellen überein. Während ein Steigen des politischen Interesses und der Wichtigkeit postmaterialistischer Werte im Zeitverlauf die Partizipationsbereitschaft durchschnittlich erhöht, sinkt selbige tendenziell bei Ansteigen der Demokratiezufriedenheit. Unerwarteterweise brachten andere Variablen politischer Unterstützung (Vertrauen in politische und rechtsstaatliche Institutionen, Regierungszufriedenheit und die Legitimität der politischen Gemeinschaft), ebenso wie Variablen zur Darstellung der internen und externen Efficacy und der eigenen Links-Rechts Verortung im reinen Längsschnitt (Fixed Effects) keine signifikanten Effekte hervor.

Part.Index

(OLS)

(RE)

(FE)

Politisches Interesse

0.49***

0.50***

0.33***

(0.03)

(0.04)

(0.08)

Links-Einstufung

0.18***

0.16***

0.05

(1=rechts; 11=links)

(0.02)

(0.02)

(0.03)

Interne Efficacy

0.46***

0.41***

0.09

(0.04)

(0.04)

(0.06)

Externe Efficacy

0.01

-0.0004

-0.01

(0.04)

(0.04)

(0.07)

Vertrauen in pol. Inst.

-0.02

-0.001

0.04

(0.03)

(0.03)

(0.04)

V. in rechts. Institutionen

0.45***

0.37***

0.33

(0.13)

(0.13)

(0.26)

V. in rechts. Inst. (quadriert)

-0.02**

-0.02*

-0.01

(0.01)

(0.01)

(0.02)

Demokratiezufriedenheit

-0.16***

-0.17***

-0.19***

(0.04)

(0.04)

(0.07)

Zufriedenheit mit BundesR.

0.04**

0.03*

-0.01

(0.01)

(0.01)

(0.02)

Stolz Deutscher zu sein

-0.24***

-0.23***

0.01

(0.03)

(0.03)

(0.06)

Konstante

1.35***

1.69***

(0.50)

(0.50)

Beobachtungen

4,806

4,806

4,806

R2

0.16

0.10

0.03

Angepasstes R2

0.16

0.10

0.03

F Statistik

93.06***

(df = 10; 4795)

52.36***

(df = 10; 4795)

4.44***

(df = 10; 1533)

Tabelle 2: Modell mit Orientierungen, Motivation und politischer Unterstützung. Anmerkung: *p<0.1; **p<0.05; ***p<0.01; Quelle: Eigene Berechnung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009

 

Part.Index

(OLS)

(RE)

(FE)

Postmaterialismus.Index

0.55***

0.52***

0.14**

(0.03)

(0.03)

(0.06)

Konstante

3.32***

3.43***

(0.12)

(0.13)

N

3,904

3,904

3,904

R2

0.11

0.08

0.01

Angepasstes R2

0.11

0.08

0.01

F Statistik

472.18***

(df = 1; 3902)

320.67***

(df = 1; 3902)

5.55**

(df = 1; 640)

Tabelle 3: Modell mit der Wichtigkeit postmaterialistischer Werte. Anmerkung: *p<0.1; **p<0.05; ***p<0.01; Quelle: Eigene Berechnung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009

Die Integration in Netzwerke (Mitglieds- oder Amtsträgerschaft in Parteien, Berufsvereinigungen und Gewerkschaften) erhöht tendenziell hypothesenkonform die Bereitschaft zur nicht institutionellen Partizipation (Referenzgruppe: Kein Mitglied). Es muss allerdings erwähnt sein, dass lediglich die Effekte im Querschnittsmodell signifikant sind. In einem berechneten First Difference Modell brachte nur die Gewerkschaftsvariable einen signifikanten positiven Effekt hervor.

Part.Index

(OLS)

(FD)

(FE)

Partei

0.87***

0.41

0.35

(0.14)

(0.31)

(0.30)

Berufsvereinigung

0.62***

0.21

0.20

(0.14)

(0.22)

(0.22)

Gewerkschaft

0.71***

0.39*

0.26

(0.10)

(0.21)

(0.20)

Konstante

5.94***

0.35 ***

(0.04)

(0.07)

N

4,806

1,543

4,806

R2

0.03

0.005

0.003

Angepasstes R2

0.03

0.003

0.001

F Statistik

46.52*** (df = 3; 4802)

2.32* (df = 3; 1539)

1.52 (df = 3; 1540)

Tabelle 4: Modell mit der Integration in Netzwerke. Anmerkung: *p<0.1; **p<0.05; ***p<0.01; Quelle: Eigene Berechnung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009

Zusammenfassend bleibt festzuhalten, dass sich die Betrachtung der Längsschnittdimension in allen berechneten Modellen rein statistisch in jedem Falle lohnt. Trotz der mangelnden Signifikanz der einzelnen Längsschnitteffekte konnten interessante Wirkungsmechanismen identifiziert werden, die teilweise von den Querschnittsbefunden abweichen. Die vermutete Wichtigkeit eines methodischen Perspektivwechsels lässt sich letztendlich bestätigen.

Technischer Anhang

Für die empirische Analyse wurden Daten des Langfristpanel 2002 bis 2009 der Bundestagswahlstudien (englisch: German Longitudinal Election Study) verwendet, welche von dem Leibniz-Institut für Sozialwissenschaften auf dessen Homepage bereitgestellt werden.

Für besseres Verständnis der Regressionsergebnisse ist untenstehend eine Interpretationshilfe dargestellt.

Variante Interpretation der Koeffizienten
Fixed Effects Wie stark verändert sich Y über die Zeit hinweg durchschnittlich pro Person, wenn X um eine Einheit steigt.
Random Effects Durchschnittlicher Effekt von X auf Y, wenn X über die Zeit hinweg und zwischen Personen um eine Einheit variiert.
First Difference Wie verändert sich Y im Schnitt, zu dem Zeitpunkt, an dem sich X um eine Einheit verändert.

Tabelle 5: Erklärung der Interpretation der Koeffizienten. Quelle: Eigene Darstellung; Angelehnt an (Torres-Reyna 2010; S.12-14) und (Giesselmann; Windzio 2012; S.61)

Um die Querschnittseffekte besser nachvollziehen zu können (OLS-Regressionsmodelle) sind selbige untenstehend visualisiert.

Abbildung 2: Querschnittsbefunde des soziodemografischen Modells. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009
Abbildung 2: Querschnittsbefunde des soziodemografischen Modells. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009

 

Abbildung 3: Querschnittsbefunde des Modells mit Orientierungen, Motivationen und politischer Unterstützung. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009
Abbildung 3: Querschnittsbefunde des Modells mit Orientierungen, Motivationen und politischer Unterstützung. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009
Abbildung 4: Querschnittsbefunde des Modells mit der Wichtigkeit postmaterialistischer Werte. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009
Abbildung 4: Querschnittsbefunde des Modells mit der Wichtigkeit postmaterialistischer Werte. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009
Abbildung 5: Querschnittsbefunde des Modells mit der Integration in Netzwerke. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009
Abbildung 5: Querschnittsbefunde des Modells mit der Integration in Netzwerke. Quelle: Eigene Berechnung und Darstellung; Datenbasis: Bundestagswahlstudie 2002 bis 2009

 

Verwendete Literatur:

Easton, David (1965): A systems analysis of political life. New York/London/Sydney: John Wiley & Sons.

Giesselmann, Marco; Windzio, Michael (2012): Regressionsmodelle zur Analyse von Paneldaten. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Lauth, Hans-Joachim; Pickel, Gert; Pickel, Susanne (2014): Vergleich politischer Systeme. Paderborn: Schöningh [u.a.] (UTB, 4000 : Politikwissenschaft).

Norris, Pippa (1999): Introduction: The Growth of Critical Citizens? In: Norris, Pippa (Hg.): Critical Citizens. Global Support for Democratic Governance. Repr. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, S. 1–30.

Offe, Claus (2012): Political disaffection as an outcome of institutional practices? Some post Tocquevillean speculations. In: Torcal, Mariano; Montero, José R. (Hg.): Political disaffection in contemporary democracies. Social capital, institutions and politics. Paperback ed. London: Routledge (Routledge research in comparative politics, 13), S. 23–45.

Pickel, Susanne; Pickel, Gert (2016): Politische Kultur in der Vergleichenden Politikwissenschaft. In: Lauth, Hans-Joachim; Kneuer, Marianne; Pickel, Gert (Hg): Handbuch Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft. Wiesbaden. Springer VS, S. 541-556.

Torres-Reyna, Oscar (2010): Getting Started in Fixed/Random Effects Models using R. Princeton University. Online verfügbar unter: https://www.princeton.edu/~otorres/Panel101R.pdf.

Verba, Sidney; Nie, Norman H. (1987): Participation in America. Political democracy and social equality. Repr. [der Ausg.] New York: Harper & Row, 1972, 1. [Dr.]. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

Verba, Sidney; Schlozman, Kay L.; Brady, Henry E. (1995): Voice and Equality. Civic Voluntarism in American Politics, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Wagschal, Uwe (2015): Direkte Demokratie: Instrumente – Policy-Wirkungen – neue Formen der Bürgerbeteiligung. In: Wagschal, Uwe; Wenzelburger, Georg; Jäckle, Sebastian (Hg.): Einführung in die Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft. Institutionen – Akteure – Policies. 1. Aufl. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag, S. 85–102.

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Social inequalities within the group of older people impede the formation of a politically uniform bloc of older people

This essay is the third in a series written by Achim Goerres for the project “Ageing Democracies? Political Participation and Cultural Values Among the Elderly in Europe” financed by the Open Society Foundation. The complete project report with all essays and the reports written by the other project members can be found here.

There are various examples of older people’s political protests in Europe. In Spain, the Iaioflautas movement is one of older people who protest on multiple political issues related to the labour market, education, health, gender and basic income. They use new modes of swift communication and conduct political actions defying stereotypes of old age, mirroring other older people’s social movements such as the Raging Nannies in Canada and the USA (Blanche-Tarragó and Fernández-Ardèvol 2014). In 2004 and 2005 in England, political protests against the Council Tax were mainly led by older people, as they were disproportionally affected by it (Goerres 2009: chap. 7). In the early 1990s, older people in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary protested in favour of acceptable pension deals after the political transitions of their respective countries (Vanhuysse 2006).

But there is a common misperception in the public discourse about political protests among older people. There is an inherent portrayal of older people as a generally homogenous political group. Visuals of older people protesting seem to strengthen this conclusion, since they involve individuals who are united in their common course. Yet, these images only represent a fraction of all older people and only one particular course. To draw conclusions about older people from those images is comparable to seeing a group of top athletes long-jumping and extrapolating from this that all humans can jump that far.

Discussions about the political participation and views of older people could benefit from shifting our focus to the immense social heterogeneity that exists within the group of older people. This social heterogeneity also translates into political heterogeneity, both in terms of activism and in terms of interests. Let us consider four major social lines of stratification that are particularly relevant for politics: education, income, gender and health.

Education and income are the main social dividing lines between individuals across Europe, stratifying the social position that an individual has in a society as well as his or her political preferences and behaviour. A rich, highly educated older person is miles away from a poor, low-educated older person, both in terms of social as well as political experience. The fact that both are pensioners and therefore recipients of public pensions is not a strong bond. For the rich senior, a public pension is likely to be a smaller fraction of his or her disposable income than for the poor senior. The rich, highly educated senior is more likely to have diversified his or her pension income across a diverse set of assets and different kinds of pensions.

Let us look at the relationship between household income and support for redistribution from the rich to the poor by the state. We will use this attitude to get a sense of where people see themselves on the classic economic scale from very left to very right. Across all older people, 73% think that it is the role of the government to decrease income differences between the rich and the poor. However, when we divide older people by income groups, we get exactly the pattern that we see among younger people. Those with higher income support this notion less often than those with lower income. More concretely, among older people whose household income is in the lowest 30% of their respective country’s income distribution, the proportion that supports income redistribution by the state lies at 79%. Among the highest 30% of household incomes, that estimate lies at 62%. In other words, income divides older people as to their demand for one of the core functions of the modern state in the same way it divides younger people.

Gender is another factor which stratifies the social experience of modern life to a great extent. At old age, the accumulation of these experiential differences becomes greatest and intersects with different mortality rates. All over the world, women are on average more likely to live longer than men (Barford et al. 2006). The gap in life expectancy between men and women has been decreasing in Europe over the last two decades, yet it still varies widely (Van Oyen et al. 2010). This means that the older the age group is, the more female it is. We know of some gender-related differences in political preferences. Women tend to place more emphasis on some policy issues over others (Campbell 2004). They are also less likely to vote for right-wing parties (Norris 2005) and more likely to support social policy expenditure (Jaime-Castillo et al. 2016; Hatemi et al. 2012). Thus, the composition of political behaviour and preferences is affected by there being more women at old age.

Health is another important line of division among older people. Health discrepancies in old age are striking. As a result, pension age can typically be divided into a first period, when pensioners are still capable of many things and a second period characterised by multi-morbidity, incapacitating them in many ways. The first period is referred to as the “third age” or “young old” and the second as the “fourth age” or “old old”. The age at the time of transition from the first period to the second period varies greatly among individuals. Health is an important predictor of political participation (Mattila et al. 2013; Sund et al. 2016; Söderlund and Rapeli 2015). Yet it predicts participation in different ways. Voting can be made accessible to individuals with health problems in various ways like proxy voting (someone votes for you), postal voting and mobile voting booths (in hospitals for example), mitigating the impact of health problems. But other forms of participation, such as writing letters or demonstrating in the streets, are much more demanding in terms of cognitive and physical abilities. Health inequalities thus translate more into political inequalities among older people for those political actions that are more demanding.

We can explore this using 2014 survey data for 20 European countries. In that survey, people were asked whether they were hampered in their daily activities by any illness or disability. Among the young old (people between 60 and 74 years old), 27% said that they were to some extent hampered, while 9% said that they were hampered very much. In the group of the old-old (people aged 75 and older), 34% said that they were hampered to some extent and 18% that they were hampered a lot. This pattern is mirrored in their political activity levels.

In Figure 1, we can see two mosaic plots that classify four types of political activity and the degree of self-perceived constraint, once for the young-old and once for the old-old. Each tile of the mosaic represents the sub-group of one activity type and one type of self-assessed constraint. The four types of activities are: non-active, only voting, voting and more, and only non-institutionalised political participation.

In the previous on political participation in general, we saw that older people who only vote are the largest group followed by the very active group of voters and more, followed by the non-active and those who only use non-institutionalised forms of participation. In this plot, we can now explore how the different activity types intersect with the level of self-perceived health constraints.

Each tile is the size of the sub-group defined by the two levels of the two variables. So, in each sub-panel, the lowest tile on the left is the group that feels hampered heavily by health issues and is politically active. This share is much bigger in the group of the old-old compared to the young-old. The blue tiles are the sub-groups who do not feel hampered at all in their everyday lives. We see that the unhampered group is represented more in higher-activity groups than in the passive groups. We also see that the largest group among the young-old and the old-old are the ones that feel fine and just go to the polls. These are older people who are not constrained by their health and only partake in politics through voting. However, among the old-old, this group is smaller than among the young-old. Overall, the politically passive and those who only vote are more common among the old-old than among the young -old. The group whose members use voting in addition to other forms of political participation is smaller among the old-old than among the young-old.

In a nutshell, we see that health structures the ways in which older people participate in politics. Worse health is associated with less or no political activity. Non-institutionalised participation plays a small role among older people to begin with, and it becomes almost non-existent among the old-old.

Figure 1: Proportion of sub-groups by activity types and whether they feel hampered by health issues in their daily activities, 20 European countries in 2014

Proportion of sub-groups by activity types and whether they feel hampered by health issues in their daily activities, 20 European countries in 2014

Proportion of sub-groups by activity types and whether they feel hampered by health issues in their daily activities, 20 European countries in 2014

We have thus confirmed that older people are a divided group. They are divided by differences in attitudes and resources that relate to income, education, gender and health. These differences not only structure the social position of older people, but also what they do and want in politics. Socio-economic inequality among older people translates into political inequality among older people, a fact that is often very much neglected in public debate.

 

REFERENCES

Barford, Anna, Danny Dorling, George Davey Smith, and Mary Shaw. 2006. “Life Expectancy: Women Now on Top Everywhere.” British Medical Journal 332 (7545):808.

Blanche-Tarragó, D., and M. Fernández-Ardèvol. 2014. “The Iaioflautas Movement in Catalonia: A Seniors’ Networked Social Movement.” In 5th ECREA European Communication Conference. Lisbon.

Campbell, Rosie. 2004. “Gender, Ideology and Issue Preference: Is There such a Thing as a Political Women’s Interest in Britain?1.” The British Journal of Politics & International Relations 6 (1):20-44.

Goerres, Achim. 2009. The Political Participation of Older People in Ageing Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Hatemi, Peter K., Rose McDermott, J.Michael Bailey, and Nicholas G. Martin. 2012. “The Different Effects of Gender and Sex on Vote Choice.” Political Research Quarterly 65 (1):76-92.

Jaime-Castillo, Antonio M., Juan J. Fernández, Celia Valiente, and Damon Mayrl. 2016. “Collective religiosity and the gender gap in attitudes towards economic redistribution in 86 countries, 1990–2008.” Social Science Research 57:17-30.

Mattila, Mikko, Peter Söderlund, Hanna Wass, and Lauri Rapeli. 2013. “Healthy voting: The effect of self-reported health on turnout in 30 countries.” Electoral Studies 32 (4):886-91.

Norris, Pippa. 2005. Radical right: Voters and parties in the Electoral Market. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Söderlund, Peter, and Lauri Rapeli. 2015. “In sickness and in health.” Politics and the Life Sciences 34 (1):28-43.

Sund, Reijo, Hannu Lahtinen, Hanna Wass, Mikko Mattila, and Pekka Martikainen. 2016. “How voter turnout varies between different chronic conditions? A population-based register study.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health:jech-2016-208314.

Van Oyen, Herman, Bianca Cox, Carol Jagger, Emmanuelle Cambois, Wilma Nusselder, Clare Gilles, and Jean-Marie Robine. 2010. “Gender Gaps in Life Expectancy and Expected Years with Activity Limitations at Age 50 in the European Union: Associations with Macro-level Structural Indicators.” European Journal of Aging 7 (4):229-37.

Vanhuysse, P. 2006. Divide and Pacify: Strategic Social Policies and Political Protests in Post-Communist Democracies. Budapest: Central European University Press.

 

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As we age, we do not grow politically more conservative. Age differences in political preferences are almost exclusively due to the ways different cohorts grew up.

This essay is the third in a series written by Achim Goerres for the project “Ageing Democracies? Political Participation and Cultural Values Among the Elderly in Europe” financed by the Open Society Foundation. The complete project report with all essays and the reports written by the other project members can be found here.

One of the great myths about ageing and older people in politics is that individuals become more conservative with age. There is the commonly known bon mot that “if you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” This saying, which cannot be traced unequivocally to one source but seems to have been expressed first with slightly different age groups and adjectives by John Adams in a 1799 diary entry, seems to ring a bell with many observers of our European societies (Shapiro 2011).

The simple and, to some people, very appealing idea behind this is plainly wrong. Yet there seems to be something intuitively accurate about the phrase, which might explain why it has lasted so long despite the fact that there are very concrete empirical problems with it. In modern Europe, the period between an individual’s twenties and thirties is one of many changes for many people. They settle into their jobs, maybe they start a family, they start using different services provided by the public and private sector. Thus, it seems to make sense that political preferences change, too, during this period.

To begin with, political conservatism can mean several things. It can mean a generally held belief or a set of political values that are called “conservative”. Political science differentiates between two dimensions along which political preferences are usually grouped in Europe and to which political parties and candidates respond in terms of what they offer voters. The first is the economic dimension, which is associated by most people in Europe with the idea of left and right. Individuals who are more leftist on this dimension tend to believe in a strong role of the state in regulating the economy and redistributing between various social groups, most importantly from the rich to the poor. People who are more rightist on the economic dimension tend to believe in a lean role of the state both in regulating the market and in redistribution. The second dimension is the cultural one. People who are leftist here tend to support diversity with regard to sexual orientation, religion, ethnic background, language and other defining markers, and believe that the state should provide regulations to allow such diversity. Those on the cultural right are more supportive of a dominant way of living one’s life that is typically linked to a specific and narrow set of markers, such as one ethnic origin, one type of religion and one family structure. These two dimensions are not fully independent from another. Those people who are more conservative economically tend to be more conservative culturally, the relationship between the two dimensions is, however, not very strong. This is the reason why it makes sense for parties to explore the full two-dimensional room on these dimensions. For instance, the Dutch left-liberal party D66 (Democraten 66) and the right-liberal party VVD (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid and Democraties) are both economically conservative, but they differ on the cultural dimension with the D66 being more progressive culturally than VVD.

We can analyse these dimensions of political values by looking at some public opinion data from 2010 to 2014 from the European Social Survey. To measure the economic dimension, we will use support for the idea that the government should redistribute from the rich to the poor.

Table 1 shows the two demographically oldest European societies and the two youngest alongside support for the above statement as expressed in the European Social Survey. The first column shows estimated support across all age groups, the second the level of support among the 60+ group, the third the level among those under 30 and the last column the ratio of column 2 to 3. Again, if the ratio stands at one, there is no difference in support levels between the two age groups.

In Germany, 70% of the adult population think that the state should redistribute from the rich to the poor, while 73% of older people and 70% of young people think so. So, in Germany, younger people are actually more likely to be economically conservative than older people, but only very slightly. Older people are 1.04 times more likely to be supportive of redistribution than young people. The same pattern prevails in Italy, which is demographically the most similar society to Germany in Europe. It also holds in Ireland and Slovakia, the two youngest societies in our sample.

Table 1: Support for income redistribution by age group

 
Income diff reduce overall
Income diff reduce 60+
Income diff reduce 18-29
Ration old by young
Germany7073701.04
Ireland7782731.12
Italy8385781.09
Slovakia7682731.13

Let us now look at the cultural dimension. Table 2 shows similar evidence about whether individuals support the idea that homosexuals should be able to live as they want. The numbers are levels of support for the culturally progressive position. In Germany, for example, 85% of the adult population believe that homosexuals should live their lives as they wish, while 77% of older people and 88% of young people believe the same. Older people are thus 12% less likely to support this view. All four countries show the same inter-age group pattern, namely that older people tend to be culturally more conservative than young people. The only striking difference in Table 2 is between Slovakia and the other three countries, since Slovakia has a strongly culturally conservative populace with stark age group differences and an age ratio of 0.50.

Table 2: Support for free expression of homosexual life styles in two oldest and youngest democracies

 
Homosexual lifest accept overall
Homosexual lifest accept 60
Homosexual lifest accept 18-29
Homosexual accept old by young
Germany8577880.88
Ireland8678890.88
Italy7367740.90
Slovakia4227540.50

Figure 2 gives us an overview of all European countries in terms of the differences between older and young people with respect to the economic and cultural views described above. The picture is divided by the two parity lines at the value 1. The biggest quadrant is to the top left: older people are economically less and culturally more conservative than young people. Four countries deviate from this pattern: Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain (i.e., United Kingdom without Northern Ireland) and the Netherlands. In the first three, older people are on average both economically and culturally more conservative than young people. In the Netherlands, however, older people are less conservative than young people on both dimensions, although only slightly so in the cultural dimension.

The countries are also marked by different symbols depending on their time of democratisation. Those countries that have been democratised before or slightly after World War II tend to show a smaller age ratio in the cultural dimension than the other countries. This means that the difference between older people and the young in terms of the cultural dimension is much smaller in more established democracies.

In a nutshell based on our measures, older people are on average and in most European countries economically less conservative than young people. They are also culturally more conservative, broadly, than their young country peers.

Are there any explanations for these patterns? First of all, the distribution of certain social characteristics is different among the elderly than it is among younger people. For instance, the group of older people is more female than younger groups due to gender-specific mortality rates and less well educated due to recent expansions of educational possibilities. Being female and lower educated are both associated with less economic conservatism than being male or higher-educated. At the same time, women and lower educated people are also less likely to be economically conservative, supporting the notion that the differences observed may be due to the composition of the groups.

Figure 1: Age ratios of support for redistribution (economic progressivism) and support for diversity of sexual orientation (cultural progressivism)

Figure 1Legend: Diamonds=Democracies since before 1945, rectangles=democracies since after 1945 and before 1961, circles=democracies since the 1970s, crosses= democracies since 1989. For country acronyms, see appendix.

There are further explanations for age-related differences with regard to political values. Most importantly, older people are members of a different cohort than younger people. This means that individuals who grew up during the same time, given the same historical context, share similar experiences that shapes them in late adolescence and early adulthood. Political scientists use the term “political generations” to refer to causal mechanism. These common experiences are tremendously shaped by national circumstances and political history. Being a member of a birth cohort in one country can shape an individual rather differently than being the member of the same birth cohort in another country. If these experiences were all idiosyncratic to a national context, we would not see such a common pattern across countries. Instead, there are some cohort experiences that have a similar political effect across European countries. World War II and its aftermath is one such common experience. We know that the experience of death and violence in World War II shaped the collective experience in Eastern Europe and the longing for safety in the European Union.

More importantly in the context of our discussion about conservatism, there have been broad developments in Europe that shaped the ways in which members of different cohorts relate to politics. One of these broad developments is socio-economic modernisation and democratisation (Inglehart 1997). This is a broad development at the social, economic and political level through which individuals grow more individualistic, more cosmopolitan and more accepting of diversity. This development catches cohorts differently, such that it is mostly those cohorts whose members are still young and can still be shaped by this change. When we look at a snap shot of younger and older people as we did with our data, this can explain the varying degrees of cultural conservatism among older people. Their cohorts have been less impacted by this development than cohorts of younger people. Thus, it is not a coincidence that the richer and, according to this theory, socio-economically more developed countries in Europe (Western Europe) tend to be more on the right of the x-axis in Figure 1. The further along societies are in the process of socio-economic development, the smaller the gap in cultural conservatism between younger and older people is. Lithuania, Greece, Estonia and Slovakia show culturally much more conservative older people relative to younger people in their countries because they are, according to this theory, less developed (with GDP per capita being a simple indicator of that). Iceland, the Netherlands and Belgium, in contrast, show a rather low level of difference.

This co-evolution with socio-economic development is remarkable because the social status of older people tends to decline with increasing modernisation. In pre-modern society, the social status of older men (not women!) as the heads of households was still high (Foner 1984). This status declined with increasing industrialisation and was finally removed altogether with the introduction of the modern welfare state, which allowed all individuals to seek their own material fortunes without the family having to be the main safety net.

In other words, if older people are more conservative than younger people, this is much more likely due to their cohort membership than to where they are in the life cycle. But these differences are not stable across time. For instance, analyses of the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom demonstrate that older people in 2016 were much more likely to vote for the Leave option than for the Remain option, most likely because older people belonged to cohorts that were more fond of the traditional nation-state than the supranational structure of EU governance (Goodwin and Heath 2016; Hobolt 2016).

So, is there anything left to say about older people and conservatism? There is some evidence about voters being more open to newer parties in the first elections of their lives. Later, if these parties do not make it into the establishment, they tend to shift to more established parties. As voters have had more opportunities to cast a vote, they grow increasingly disenchanted with wasting their votes on new parties. However, this effect, which one might call status-quo conservatism, is small and can only be demonstrated for countries with proportional representation systems (Goerres 2009).

Appendix

Table 3: Support for income redistribution by age group

Country Name
Country Code
Overall
Level among older people (60+)
Level among middle-aged (30-59 yrs)
Level among young (18-29 yrs)
Ratio old by young
IcelandIS738673591.46
NorwayNO576655471.42
FinlandFI758173641.27
NetherlandsNL566454511.27
Czech RepublicCZ616960551.27
SwedenSE687565621.21
EstoniaEE788576711.19
PolandPL788577731.17
BelgiumBE717770661.16
CroatiaHR858886781.13
CyprusCY849083801.13
SlovakiaSK768275731.13
IrelandIE778277731.12
FranceFR757875701.12
LithuaniaLT909489851.11
ItalyIT838584781.09
SloveniaSI879185851.08
BulgariaBG879186851.07
DenmarkDK394137381.06
GermanyDE707369701.04
GreeceGR828283801.03
PortugalPT929392911.03
HungaryHU878787861.02
SpainES848682851.01
AustriaAT838382831.00
SwitzerlandCH656663670.99
BritainGB636262650.96
Mean757974711.13
Minimum394137380.96
Maximum929492911.46

Table 4: Support for free expression of homosexual life styles

Country Name
Country Code
Overall
Level among older people (60+)
Level among middle-aged (30-59 yrs)
Level among young (18-29 yrs)
Ratio old by young
NetherlandsNL939194901.01
SwitzerlandCH817684810.95
DenmarkDK918893930.94
BelgiumBE868288880.94
SwedenSE908791930.93
IcelandIS948796940.93
BritainGB857987880.90
ItalyIT736777740.90
FranceFR827584840.89
GermanyDE857788880.88
IrelandIE867889890.88
AustriaAT767177840.84
NorwayNO857687920.83
FinlandFI756778830.81
SpainES847188910.78
PolandPL514155530.78
CyprusCY584960670.73
HungaryHU473950530.73
Czech RepublicCZ635265720.72
BulgariaBG564760660.71
CroatiaHR413441490.70
SloveniaSI574660660.69
PortugalPT695474860.63
EstoniaEE433046580.52
SlovakiaSK422745540.50
GreeceGR523256680.47
LithuaniaLT201320300.41
Mean696172750.78
Minimum201320300.41
Maximum949196941.01

 

References

Foner, Nancy. 1984. Ages in Conflict: A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Inequality between Old and Young. New York: Columbia University Press.

Goerres, Achim. 2009. The Political Participation of Older People in Europe: The Greying of Our Democracies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Goodwin, Matthew J, and Oliver Heath. 2016. “The 2016 Referendum, Brexit and the Left Behind: An Aggregate‐level Analysis of the Result.” The Political Quarterly 87 (3):323-32.

Hobolt, Sara B. 2016. “The Brexit Vote: a Divided Nation, a Divided Continent.” Journal of European Public Policy 23 (9):1259-77.

Inglehart, Ronald. 1997. Modernization and Postmodernization. Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Shapiro, Fred. 2011. John Adams Said it First  [cited 18 April 2017].

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