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.