by Andrea Finlay and Connie Flanagan
In CIRCLE working paper (#67) and factsheet “Civic Engagement and Educational Progress in Young Adulthood”, the authors find that young adults (those between the ages of 16 and 30 at baseline) who make academic progress over a four-year period are also more likely to participate in civic activities such as voting, volunteering, and accessing social media to discuss current events. This relationship holds for young adults from low-income backgrounds as well as high-income backgrounds.
The authors note that some groups are more likely than others to make educational progress over the four years. They find that low-income youths who make academic progress over the four years are more likely to participate in sustained engagement, such as volunteering and voting, than low-income youths who make no educational progress. In addition, disadvantaged youths who make educational progress are more likely to access media for information on current events. The authors note that factors such as divorce and having young children are especially disadvantageous in furthering educational progress. African-American, Hispanic and American-Indian youths are less likely to make educational progress than any other racial group; they are also more likely to come from families with lower incomes.
The authors propose several interpretations of their findings: educational progress may lead to higher levels of engagement; sustained service may link young adults to opportunities and mentors that assist them in continuing their education; and more motivated young adults may be more likely to continue their education and get engaged in civic affairs.
* Download CIRCLE Working Paper #67 “Making Educational Progress: Links to Civic Engagement During the Transition to Adulthood”
* Download CIRCLE fact sheet “Civic Engagement and Educational Progress in Young Adulthood”