Subjective Well-Being and Political Participation: A Comparison of Unemployed and Employed Youth
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In this paper I analyze the role of subjective well-being in unemployed and employed youth political participation. Research shows that life satisfaction increases participation in voting, but has no effect on protest activities when looking at the overall population. However, in the case of youth, life dissatisfaction fosters the potential for protest activities. Since unemployment is detrimental for the subjective well-being of individuals, especially when long-lasting, I ask whether the reduced subjective well-being of long-term unemployed youth, their life dissatisfaction, fosters their participation in two forms of voice-based participation—contacting and protest activities—that can be used to express their dissatisfaction. I find that life dissatisfaction fosters the participation of employed youth in contacting activities, but not that of unemployed youth. Quite on the contrary, for protest activities, it is life satisfaction that fosters participation of the unemployed youth.
KeywordsYouth Unemployment Life satisfaction Political participation
This paper was written while I was visiting scholar at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung. I am grateful to Professor Heike Solga for her hospitality and to Marco Giugni, Dietlind Stolle, Christian Lahusen, Lucio Bacarro, Jonas Pontusson, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments. The academic stay at the Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung was funded by the Swiss National Fund under the doc.mobility program. Results presented in this paper have been obtained within the project “Youth, Unemployment, and Exclusion in Europe: A Multidimensional Approach to Understanding the Conditions and Prospects for Social and Political Integration of Young Unemployed” (YOUNEX). This project was funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (grant agreement no. 216122).
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