Better Procedures for Fairer Outcomes: Can Youth Quotas Increase Our Chances of Meeting the Demands of Intergenerational Justice?



In this chapter, I put forward an instrumental justification for the introduction of youth quotas in parliament on grounds of justice between co-existing generations. I provide a two-fold argument drawing on the distinction between ‘substantive representation’ and ‘symbolic representation’. I argue that these jointly provide a good basis for a ‘politics of youth presence’ in parliaments. The chapter is in three parts. In the first section, I evaluate the impact that youth quotas can have on enhancing the chances of intergenerationally fair policies being implemented (substantive representation). In the second section, I show that youth quotas can play an important symbolic role in the promotion of a community of political equals, with potential implications for youth political participation (symbolic representation). In the third section, I introduce an original distinction between two kinds of quotas: cohort and age quotas. I show that this distinction is often hidden behind the use of the phrase ‘youth quotas’ and argue that both kinds of quotas should be seriously considered.


Age Groups Birth Cohorts Intergenerational Justice Politics of Presence Substantive Representation Descriptive Representation Symbolic Representation Essentialism 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European University InstituteFlorenceItaly

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