Impacts of adolescent and young adult civic engagement on health and socioeconomic status in adulthood.

PJ Ballard, LT Hoyt, MC Pachucki


The present study examines links between civic engagement (voting, volunteering, and activism) during late adolescence and early adulthood and socioeconomic status and mental and physical health in adulthood. Using nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, a propensity score matching approach is used to rigorously estimate how civic engagement is associated with outcomes among 9,471 adolescents and young adults (baseline mean age = 15.9). All forms of civic engagement are positively associated with subsequent income and education level. Volunteering and voting are favorably associated with subsequent mental health and health behaviors while activism is associated with more health risk behaviors and not associated with mental health. Civic engagement is not associated with physical health.

Child Development
January, 2018