There is a range of com­mon con­cerns about why the vot­ing age should not be low­ered to 16. This brief­ing engages with some of the most dom­i­nant con­cerns in pub­lic debate empir­i­cal­ly. It uses data from two rep­re­sen­ta­tive sur­veys of under 18-year olds in Scot­land con­duct­ed in 2013 and 2014 in the con­text of the inde­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum and updates pre­vi­ous re- search on this mat­ter based on the first sur­vey only. The find­ings pro­vide an opti­mistic con­clu­sion: Not only do we find lit­tle evi­dence to sup­port argu­ments against low­er­ing the vot­ing on the basis that this may have ad- verse effects. In addi­tion we find that low­er­ing the vot­ing age may have pos­i­tive impacts on polit­i­cal engage­ment, if cer­tain struc­tur­al pro­vi­sions, main­ly through schools, can be estab­lished.

This research is based on data from a sur­vey project con­duct­ed by a team of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Polit­i­cal Sci­ence led by Dr Jan Eich­horn and includ­ing Prof Lind­say Pater­son, Prof John MacInnes and Dr Michael Rosie as well as input from sev­er­al d|part researchers. The project was fund­ed by the Eco­nom­ic and Social Research Coun­cil through its Future of the UK and Scot­land pro­gramme and admin­is­tered under the umbrel­la of the Applied Quan­ti­ta­tive Meth­ods Net­work (AQMeN). All views pre­sent­ed in this brief­ing are sole­ly those of the author. Some of the analy­ses in this brief­ing have pre­vi­ous­ly been pre­sent­ed by the author at the ECPR con­fer­ence in Glas­gow in Sep­tem­ber 2014.

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