Participation in Voluntary Youth-Serving Associations and Early Adult Voting Behavior

Membership in voluntary associations has declined but there is disagreement over the extent of the decline and whether it suggests a corresponding decrease in civic activity. This study investigates whether adolescents' participation in volunteer activities influences voting behavior during early adulthood. The study used data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988-1994 to examine participation in scouts, religious youth groups, nonschool team sports, and boys and girls clubs. To determine civic participation, the researchers used two measures: voter registration status in 1992 and whether respondents voted in the presidential election of that year. The study found that socioeconomic status and race is related to a teenager's voluntary association membership. In addition, membership of a voluntary organization is positively related to voter registration status and whether or not young adults are likely to participate in the first national election that they are eligible to vote in. However, this relationship is also moderated by race and socioeconomic status.