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Youth Without Representation

Hybrid Workshop

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Twenty-five years ago, Pippa Norris (1997) aptly described that parliaments are composed of middle-aged to senior men of the dominant ethnicity. Over the past two decades, this picture has somewhat changed. In particular, when it comes to gender and ethnicity, parliaments across the globe have become more diverse. Unfortunately, the same diversification has not taken place when it comes to young MPs. To highlight, worldwide, people under 30 represent only 2 percent of MPs, while they represent 50 percent of the population (Magni-Berton & Panel 2020). By contrast, the average country leader is 60 years old.


In this workshop, we will investigate the reasons for this continued underrepresentation of youth in positions of elected office. In most countries, there is a three-step process for getting elected: First, declaring candidacy, i.e., becoming an aspirant. Second, winning a party nomination in an uninominal electoral system or being placed on an (electable) list position in a PR system. Third, being elected. In this workshop, we want to decipher which of these steps in the funnel of representation is (more) relevant in determining youth’s underrepresentation in parliaments and other elected bodies.

Is the problem of youth representation a supply problem with not enough young adults willing to run? Is there sustained discrimination in the political system or within parties that blocks youths from candidacy or from elections? Do voters systematically disadvantage younger candidates? And how is the working of these factors conditioned by systemic determinants like the electoral system, degree of democracy, as well as candidacy and voting age requirements?

We seek answers to these questions and are interested in theoretical and empirical papers (either in-depth case analyses, comparative, or large-N studies) that try to establish why and how youth are (most) disadvantaged in the funnel of representation.


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University of Ottawa & Online


Kristina Webb

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