Political Participation of Older Americans

Elena Guagenti-Tax

Political Participation of Older Americans
Guagenti-Tax, Elena
Thesis Advisor(s):
Monk, Abraham
Ph.D., Columbia University
Social Work
Persistent URL:
This study addressed the political participation of Older Americans. Political participation was defined as all behavior through which people directly expressed their political opinions and ideologies. This definition was broad enough to cover all expressions of political opinions--from discussing politics to contacting public officials. The main concern of this study was to distinguish between the social roles and status of the 'Young Old' (ages 55-74) and the 'Old Old' (ages 75 and over) and their effect on political participation. Little is known about the precise political behavior of these two age groups. This research examined the level of their political activity through multiple regression and factor analysis. A secondary analysis of University of Michigan 1984 pre- and post- National Election Study data provided the evidence for this study. The principal findings of this study were the social characteristics that differentiate those 'Young Old' and 'Old Old' who were more likely to participate in political activities. For the 'Young Old' they were: being married, educated, paying attention to the political campaign of 1984, community residence, "feeling closest" to blacks, belonging to interest groups, and having a strong feeling of political efficacy. For the 'Old Old' also being married, educated, belonging to interest groups, "feeling closest" to environmentalists were significant. Identification with the elderly as a group, was not a significant predictor of participation for the 'Young Old' and the 'Old Old'. This relationship held for all types of participation. No evidence existed to indicate that strictly age-based interests were prevalent among the 1984 elderly respondents.
Social service
Political science
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Suggested Citation:
Elena Guagenti-Tax, , Political Participation of Older Americans, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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