Political Participation and Wellbeing in the Netherlands: Exploring the Causal Links

Abstract

Does political participation make individuals more satisfied with their lives? Scholars of classical philosophy and participatory democracy suggest that participation in political activities is indeed a fundamental tenet of individual wellbeing. However, even though political participation is one of the most intensively studied topics in political science for decades, the relationship with individual wellbeing only recently started to gather some attention. So far, the existing empirical research has come to inconclusive results. In this study, we first re-examine the theoretical relationships between political participation and wellbeing. Secondly, using panel data from the Netherlands, we assess empirically the causal relations between taking part in political activities and individual life satisfaction. We give special attention to the role of political efficacy in this relationship. Employing structural equation modeling and correcting for measurement error, we find no evidence of a substantive effect of political participation on life satisfaction.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The LISS panel core study consists of 11 different topics, distributed monthly throughout the year. In wave 1 and wave 2, the modules about politics and personality, of which we make use here, were signed out to the respondents respectively in December (2007, 2008) and May (2008, 2009).

  2. 2.

    The other political participation activities are: by making use of radio, television or newspaper; contacted a politician or civil servant; and participated in a political discussion or campaign by Internet, e-mail or SMS

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Correspondence to André Pirralha.

Appendix I – Correction for measurement error

Appendix I – Correction for measurement error

Table 3

Table 3 Loadings of the observed variables on the latent variables

Table 4

Table 4 Covariance matrix with correction for measurement error

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Pirralha, A. Political Participation and Wellbeing in the Netherlands: Exploring the Causal Links. Applied Research Quality Life 12, 327–341 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-016-9463-x

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Keywords

  • Life satisfaction
  • Political participation
  • Political efficacy
  • Causality
  • Citizenship