Are Millennials Just One Big Predictable Blob of Civic Participation? [REPORT]
Civic participation among young Americans—often dubbed the millennial generation—defies easy categorization, according to a new report [PDF], with voter turnout on par with previous generations despite enormous variation of engagement along lines of class, race and education.
“What’s most important about this report is that the ‘millennials’ are often treated as one big group that moves in lockstep," said Jay Barth, director of Civic Engagement Projects at Hendrix College, "Instead, as this report emphasized, this generation is made up of important subgroups when it comes to civic engagement.”
"The path forward begins by avoiding easy generalizations about young people and instead examining the nuance in their backgrounds, experiences, and how they engage in their communities and democracy," read the report.
Higher levels of educational attainment are linked with higher levels of civic engagement among millennials, but researchers also found lower levels of social cohesion among young adults who had attained higher levels of education.
Age and race also divide the group. Persons aged 22-25 show lower levels of civic engagement compared to the group as a whole, and millennials of Hispanic descent have markedly lower levels of civic engagement than other groups, which could be linked in some circumstances to immigration status or the language barrier. And geography is a factor, with urban millennials more likely to discuss current events than their suburban and rural counterparts, and young people in the West and Midwest more likely to hold civic leadership roles than their counterparts in the Northeast and the South.
“Moving forward, it’s going to be crucial for scholars and analysts of politics and civic engagement to pay attention to these subgroups that exist within this huge group of Americans," Barth said.
The report was released by the National Conference on Citizenship, in partnership with the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University.
Molly Miller is a reporter for Campus Progress.