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Subjective Well-Being and Political Participation: A Comparison of Unemployed and Employed Youth

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Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. In the Swiss federal state, the term “canton” denotes the member states.

  2. Claim making is defined as “the expression of a political opinion by verbal or physical action in the public space” (Giugni 2008: 302).

  3. Running the same analyses as Frey and Stutzer (2000) while taking into account the Swiss multilingual division, indicators of cantonal and individual language, as well as controls for religion and income, Dorn et al. (2008) found that the effects of direct democracy institutions were no longer significant predictors of happiness.

  4. Additional information about the sample design and the tests I conducted to merge the sub-samples of long-term unemployed youth can be found in my doctoral thesis (Lorenzini 2013).

  5. For protest activities, I also tried to construct an index using participation in illegal and violent actions in addition to participation in public demonstration, but the Cronbach’s alpha for this index was rather low (.385). Therefore, I decided to focus only on participation in public demonstration the most widespread protest activity among the three.

  6. Appendix 2 presents the seven Models of the logistic regressions.

  7. Appendix 3 presents the seven Models of the logistic regressions.

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Acknowledgments

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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Correspondence to Jasmine Lorenzini.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 5.

Table 5 Descriptive statistics on dependent and independent variables

Appendix 2

See Table 6.

Table 6 Logistic regressions on protest activities (exponentiated coefficients, standard error)

Appendix 3

See Table 7.

Table 7 Logistic regressions on contacting activities (exponentiated coefficients, standard error)

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Lorenzini, J. Subjective Well-Being and Political Participation: A Comparison of Unemployed and Employed Youth. J Happiness Stud 16, 381–404 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9514-7

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