Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 43, Issue 11, pp 1829–1843 | Cite as

Adolescent Civic Engagement and Adult Outcomes: An Examination Among Urban Racial Minorities

  • Wing Yi Chan
  • Suh-Ruu Ou
  • Arthur J. Reynolds
Empirical Research


Civic engagement in adolescence is encouraged because it is hypothesized to promote better civic, social, and behavioral outcomes. However, few studies have examined the effects of civic engagement on youth development over time. In particular, the long-term association between adolescent civic engagement and development among racial minority youth who are exposed to high levels of risk factors is understudied. Using data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS; N = 854; 56.6 % were female; 93 % were African Americans and 7 % were Latinos), this study examined the associations between civic engagement in adolescence and outcomes during emerging adulthood among racial minority youth. Regression analyses found that civic engagement in adolescence is related to higher life satisfaction, civic participation, and educational attainment, and is related to lower rates of arrest in emerging adulthood. The findings suggest that adolescent civic engagement is most impactful in affecting civic and educational outcomes in emerging adulthood. The present study contributes to the literature by providing support for the long-term associations between adolescent civic engagement and multiple developmental domains in adulthood among an inner-city minority cohort.


Civic engagement Racial minority youth Emerging adulthood 



Preparation of this article was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Research Service Award Program awarded to Wing Yi Chan, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD034294). Part of the results from this study was presented at the 5th Annual Emerging Adulthood Conference in Providence, RI.

Author Contributions

WC conceived of the study, analyzed and interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. SO participated in the design of the study and helped to draft the manuscript. AR is the principal investigator of the Chicago Longitudinal Study and provided feedback to the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wing Yi Chan
    • 1
  • Suh-Ruu Ou
    • 2
  • Arthur J. Reynolds
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Child DevelopmentUniversity of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolisUSA

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