Demography Prize for Young Researchers 2014/15

The Foun­da­tion for the Rights of Future Gen­er­a­tions (FRFG) and the Inter­gen­er­a­tional Foun­da­tion (IF) award the Demog­ra­phy Prize, which car­ries a total val­ue of 10,000 Euros, divid­ed up among win­ning entrants. The Prize, fund­ed and sup­port­ed by the Stiftung Apfel­baum (Apfel­baum Foun­da­tion), is award­ed every two years.

By means of this award, the FRFG and IF aim to open up a debate, based on sound aca­d­e­m­ic research, about inter­gen­er­a­tional­ly just pol­i­tics and demo­graph­ic change, and to encour­age sug­ges­tions for poten­tial future action. The invi­ta­tion to enter is extend­ed to young aca­d­e­mics from all dis­ci­plines. The com­pe­ti­tion entries should be between 6000 and 8000 words long.

The top­ic for the 5th Demog­ra­phy Prize is:

Low Elec­toral Turnout among Young Peo­ple – Con­se­quences and Remedies”

The dead­line for sub­mis­sions is 1 June 2015.

The offi­cial poster can be found here.

The fol­low­ing text will pro­vide some first ideas for a submission:

In many of the world’s democ­ra­cies, old­er peo­ple vote more con­sis­tent­ly and in greater num­bers than their younger coun­ter­parts. That is per­haps unsur­pris­ing: pol­i­tics tends to be an old­er person’s game. But the glob­al trend towards greater longevi­ty means that the num­bers of old­er vot­ers is con­stant­ly increas­ing, and the pro­por­tion­al num­ber of younger vot­ers is decreas­ing. The appar­ent reluc­tance of the young to exer­cise their right to vote only serves to rein­force this demo­graph­ic trend. The result is that politi­cians tend to pan­der to the ‘Grey Vote’, and young peo­ple run the risk of being under-rep­re­sent­ed in par­lia­ment, and of see­ing their issues over­looked by gov­ern­ments. In such a sce­nario, young peo­ple may be eas­i­er tar­gets for unpop­u­lar gov­ern­ment mea­sures, such as the belt-tight­en­ing asso­ci­at­ed with austerity.

The sta­tis­tics make the case. In the 2010 elec­tions in Britain only 44% of those aged 18–24 vot­ed com­pared to 76% in the 65-plus age group. Fur­ther­more, few­er than half of young adults in the UK are reg­is­tered to vote, where­as 96% of those aged 65-plus are. By 2025 30% of the UK elec­torate will be over 65, and it is esti­mat­ed that 478 con­stituen­cies (73.5% of the total) will have a ‘grey major­i­ty’ (where more than 50% of votes cast are from vot­ers over 55).

In Germany’s 2013 gen­er­al elec­tion, the aver­age vot­ing turnout was 72.4%. All of the age-cohorts above the age of 45 fell above this aver­age, where­as all of the age-cohorts below 45 fell exact­ly on or below it. Turnout was high­est amongst 60–70 year olds (almost 80%), which is more than 15% high­er than the turnout of 18­–21 year olds.

Would low­er­ing the vot­ing age make a dif­fer­ence? In Ger­many, where 16 year olds are eli­gi­ble to vote in the local elec­tions of some of the Län­der (fed­er­al states), there is evi­dence that a cohort who obtain their vot­ing right at 16 will have a high­er poll turnout over their whole lives than a cohort who are not allowed to cast their first vote until a lat­er age. In oth­er words, ear­ly par­tic­i­pa­tion sets a trend for life.

The effect over­all can be ascribed to the medi­an vot­ing age: the low­er the medi­an vot­ing age, the more chance there is that youth will be prop­er­ly rep­re­sent­ed. One pos­si­ble way of reduc­ing the medi­an vot­ing age could be the intro­duc­tion of com­pul­so­ry suf­frage, as already exists in some coun­tries, includ­ing Bel­gium, Greece, Lux­em­burg, Cyprus, and Aus­tralia – although this kind of enforced polit­i­cal legit­i­ma­cy might be seen to offend the prin­ci­ples of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy. The ques­tion of whether the demo­c­ra­t­ic act of vot­ing should be recast from a civic duty to a pun­ish­able oblig­a­tion is inter­dis­ci­pli­nary and inter­est­ing for, for exam­ple, philoso­phers and polit­i­cal scientists.

Alter­na­tive mea­sures to increase the elec­toral turnout of the younger age groups could aim to make the act of vot­ing eas­i­er, more ‘user-friend­ly’ – for exam­ple through e‑voting. This issue is of inter­est to soci­ol­o­gists research­ing pat­terns of polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion among the young and old, and analysing the behav­iour of the ‘Inter­net Generation’.

The prin­ci­ples of democ­ra­cy are called into ques­tion if any group with­in it become side­lined, while oth­ers are favoured. There will be con­se­quences if young peo­ple per­ceive that they are being left out of the polit­i­cal process, and reme­dies are need­ed to ensure that this does not hap­pen. There is wide scope here for close analy­sis of how these issues affect demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion around the world, and for inno­v­a­tive think­ing in search of solutions.


The jury will include:

  • Prof. Uwe Wagschal (Albert Lud­wigs Uni­ver­si­ty of Freiburg)
  • Prof. Rüdi­ger Schmitt-Beck (Uni­ver­si­ty of Mannheim)
  • Prof. Franziska Wächter (Evan­ge­lis­chen Hochschule, Dres­den)
  • Christi­na Till­mann (Ber­tels­mann Foundation)
  • Prof. Jörg Trem­mel (Eber­hard Karls Uni­ver­si­ty, Tübingen)
  • Dr James Sloam (Roy­al Hol­loway, Uni­ver­si­ty of London)
  • Katie Ghose (Chief Exec­u­tive of the Elec­toral Reform Soci­ety, UK)
  • Dr Andrew Mycock (Uni­ver­si­ty of Huddersfield)
  • Prof. Matt Henn (Not­ting­ham Trent University)
  • Prof. Andy Fur­long (Uni­ver­si­ty of Glasgow)


Recommended literature

In Eng­lish

Berry, Craig (2012): The Rise of Geron­toc­ra­cy? Address­ing the Inter­gen­er­a­tional Demo­c­ra­t­ic Deficit. Inter­gen­er­a­tional Foun­da­tion: Lon­don, online:

Cam­maerts, Bart, Bruter, Michael, Bana­ji, Shakun­ta­la, Har­ri­son, Sarah, and Anstead, Nick (2013): ‘The myth of youth apa­thy: young Euro­peans’ crit­i­cal atti­tudes toward demo­c­ra­t­ic life’. Amer­i­can Behav­ioral Sci­en­tist, online:

Far­thing, Rys (2010): ‘The pol­i­tics of youth­ful anti-pol­i­tics: rep­re­sent­ing the “issue” of youth par­tic­i­pa­tion in pol­i­tics’, in Jour­nal of Youth Stud­ies 13(2), pp. 181–95

Franklin, Mark (2004): Vot­er Turnout and the Dynam­ics of Elec­toral Com­pe­ti­tion in Estab­lished Democ­ra­cies Since 1945. Cam­bridge: Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Fur­long, Andy, and Cart­mel, Fred (2012): ‘Social change and polit­i­cal engage­ment among young peo­ple: Gen­er­a­tion and the 2009/10 British Elec­tion Sur­vey’, in Par­lia­men­tary Affairs 65(1), pp. 13–28

Green, Don­ald P. (ed.) (2005): The Sci­ence of Vot­er Mobi­liza­tion. Thou­sand Oaks, Cal­i­for­nia: SAGE Publications

Henn, Matt, and Foard, Nick (2012): ‘Young peo­ple, polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion and trust in Britain’, in Par­lia­men­tary Affairs 65(1), pp. 47–67

Ker­st­ing, Nor­bert (2012): Elec­tron­ic democ­ra­cy. Berlin: Budrich Verlag

Marsh, David, et al (2007): Young Peo­ple and Pol­i­tics in the UK: Apa­thy or Alien­ation. Bas­ingstoke: Palgrave

Nor­ris, Pip­pa (2003): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Phoenix: Rein­vent­ing Polit­i­cal Activism. Cam­bridge: Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press

Rus­sell, Andrew, Field­house, Edward, Pur­dam, Kings­ley, and Kalra, Virinder (2002): Vot­er Engage­ment and Young Peo­ple. Lon­don: The Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, online:

Sowa, Alek­san­dra (2006): Trust, e‑voting and polit­i­cal legit­i­ma­cy: Stud­ies in their inter­ac­tions. Freiburg: Projektverlag.

Sloam, James (2007): ‘Reboot­ing democ­ra­cy: youth par­tic­i­pa­tion in pol­i­tics in the UK’, in Par­lia­men­tary Affairs 60(4), pp. 548–67.

White­ly, Paul (2001): ‘Turnout’, in Philip Nor­ris (ed.) Britain Votes 2001. Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press

In Ger­man

Bräun­lich, Katha­ri­na (2013): Sichere Inter­net­wahlen: Ein rechtswis­senschaftlich-infor­ma­tis­ches Mod­ell. Baden-Baden: Nomos

Buch­stein, Huber­tus, and Ney­manns, Har­ald (eds) (2002): Online-Wahlen. Lev­erkusen: Leske+Budrich Verlag

Bytzek, Eve­lyn (ed.) (2011): Der unbekan­nte Wäh­ler? Mythen und Fak­ten über das Wahlver­hal­ten der Deutschen. Frank­furt: Campus

Cam­pagna, Nor­bert (2011): Wählen als Bürg­erpflicht: Ein Plä­doy­er. Berlin: Par­o­dos Verlag

Deck­er, Frank, Lewandowsky, Mar­cel, and Solar, Mar­cel (2013): Demokratie ohne Wäh­ler? Neue Her­aus­forderun­gen der poli­tis­chen Par­tizipa­tion. Bonn: Dietz Verlag

Eisel, Ste­fan (ed.) (2011): Inter­net und Demokratie. Freiburg: Ver­lag Herder

Faas, Thorsten (2012): Think­ing about Wahlpflicht: Anmerkun­gen zu ein­er über­fäl­li­gen Diskus­sion. Online:

Goos, Ker­stin (2011): Wahlen im Inter­net. Eine Analyse ihrer Bedeu­tung für die Wahlbeteili­gung. Stuttgart: Fraun­hofer Verlag

Herr, Vin­cent-Immanuel, and Speer, Mar­tin (2013): Wer nicht wählen will, soll zahlen. Der Trend zur poli­tis­chen Ver­weigerung gefährdet die Demokratie. Ein Plä­doy­er für die Wahlpflicht. Online: Abruf am 03.06.2014.

Kaina, Vik­to­ria, and Röm­mele, Andrea (eds) (2012): Politiche Soci­olo­gie: ein Stu­di­en­buch. Wies­baden: VS Ver­lag für Sozialwissenschaften

Keis­er, Andreas (2013): Papier­los­es, sichere E‑Voting: ein Langzeit­pro­jekt. Online:,_sicheres_E-Voting_ein_Langzeit-Projekt.html?cid=37028496

Khor­ra­mi, Esfan­di­ar (2005): Bun­destagswahlen per Inter­net : zur rechtlichen und tat­säch­lichen Real­isier­barkeit von Inter­net­wahlen. Baden-Baden: Nomos

Kuhn, Frank (2006): Elek­tro­n­is­che Par­tizipa­tion. Dig­i­tale Möglichkeit­en – Erk­lärungs­fak­toren – Instru­mente. Wies­baden: VS Ver­lag für Sozialwissenschaften

Lüeße, Thiemo (2007): Bürg­erver­ant­wor­tung und abnehmende Wahlbeteili­gung. Frank­furt am Main, Berlin: Lang.

De Nève, Dorothée (2008): Nichtwäh­lerIn­nen: eine Gefahr für die Demokratie? Berlin: Budrich Verlag

Richter, Philipp (2012): Wahlen im Inter­net rechts­gemäß gestal­ten. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Schnei­der, Sebas­t­ian, and Weber, Hol­ger (2013): eVot­ing: ein Überblick über die Ein­satzmöglichkeit­en von eVot­ing mit dem Schw­er­punkt Inter­net­wahl und Wahlcom­put­er. Munich, Ravens­burg: Grin Verlag

Vutkovich, Alexan­der (1906/2012): Wahlpflicht: Poli­tis­che Studie. Reprint: Ulan Press

Woyke, Wichard (2013): Stich­wort: Wahlen. Ein Rat­ge­ber für Wäh­ler, Wahlhelfer und Kan­di­dat­en. 12th edn. Wies­baden: VS Ver­lag für Sozialwissenschaften