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age and voting

Free essay example:


I have decided to investigate whether there is a clear link between age and voting behaviour.

         In the 2001 and the 2005 general election it appears that there has been a decline in the younger generation participation in voting. In 2001 the UK hit an all time low in voting and only managed to get a turnover of 59.1%( the lowest in nearly a century). Then in 2005 only 34% of 18 – 24 voted in the election (Denver 2005).

        I’m concentrating on this younger generation of voters because, due to my age, I have easier access to this particular age group. Also the 16-24 age group bring in the lowest election turnover and are becoming disenchanted by the whole election system.

          My hypothesis reflects this view as it is “young people are disenchanted with politics” My aims for this project are:

  • To investigated if young people vote
  • To find out why young people have became disenchanted
  • To find out if the lack of political choice is stopping young people from voting

From my research I expect to find that the political process has increasingly disenchant young people and that this change in young people’s voting is due to the fact they cannot distinguish between the political parties?

(212 words)


2001 seen the lowest voting turnout since war time Britain when only 59.1% of the population turned up to vote these caused great concern and when this figure only rose by a couple of percent in 2005. It is believed that nearly 25% of the population was refraining from voting in the general election and this figure increase in the local elections. A high number of these are the younger proportion of the population. This fact supports my hypothesis that age influence how people vote.

        There is also statistical evidence to support the claim that the younger generation are less likely to vote. The British election study in 2005 showed that only 34% of people aged 18-24 actually voted in the 2005 election even thought beforehand it seem that male in this category seem to be very enthusiastic about the idea. The figures also showed that as the age increased this voting turnout also increased show that there is a clear link between age and voting behaviour. These facts help me to complete my aim of investigating if young people vote.

        This fall in voting could be cause the fact that no one longer in concerned by politics and are not interested in the whole idea of voting as they don’t see how there vote manages to change anything. Since the 1950’s election turnouts have fallen by 11%. This proves that people are increasingly refraining from voting. This may be due to the fact people are becoming disenchanted about voting, this is how Denver feel the young are beginning to feel about voting and the election system.

David Denver (2001) studied why there was such a low turnout in the 2001 general election he found that the majority of the younger generation were now becoming apathetic voter, this means that the younger generation have little or no interest in politics or the election and don’t follow any of the election campaign. He claims that the young do this because the young have “better thing to do” such as socialise and drink, and don’t have time to think about politics. He also discovered that as the proportion of apathetic voter decline as people mature. This show that the younger generation are becoming increasingly disenchanted because they are not bothered about the whole political world or voting as they have better thing to do such as socialising within their groups.

Another factor that can stop young people voting is the lack of political choice Norris and Evans (1997) agree with this view that claims that there are three type of election. One of these in a Maintaining election this is where there is no major change in the nature of voting taking place and that the party in power might change but the politics don’t. So fundamentally you have the same party in power just using different name because there is no political difference between the major two.

Crewe (97) claims that the ideologies of M.P’s and Parties have changed of the years and that the labour politicians are increasingly taking on the views of the conservative. This shows that there is a definite shift, toward the right, in British politics.

Heath drop his argument of partisan alignment and claim in 1997 that parities are getting similar and due to this the liberal democrats are gain more support along with other out side groups. This is support by the fact that BES as it shows an increase in voting for the liberal democrats in all class and both gender.

Billinghurst (2001) also notice this change. He talks about the rise in votes for the SDP and the liberal democrats parties as a third force and how they are reducing the support of the major two, labour and conservative. He put this change down to the fact that the class and party identification models are starting to be questioned. This back up my third aim as it shows that parties are becoming similar and people are finding it increasingly difficult to distinguish between political parties.

(672 words)


In order to complete my research I will take a positivist view. This way I can then produce valid quantitative data to prove my hypothesis. I will show this data using graphs and charts. As this is a simple way of gaining accurately as well as being easily to interpret the results given.

I believe by taking such approach I will be gaining more reliable data because they believe in using a variety of scientific method. This will be particularly good for my research as I will need to find certain trends in my findings. This will allow me to prove or disprove my hypothesis easily. Were if I took the interpretivist approach I could only gather a few people opinions on certain issue to do with my hypothesis. I will also be trying to not let my personal belief affect my research as positivist believe that if this is done that data become invalid as it is only the researchers opinion.

The particular for of positivist research I will be using is a questionnaire, as this will allow me to me to collect reliable data. I will use a number of closed question so that my data can be easily interpreted and show in a graphical form. I will make sure that the questionnaire can be easily self completed so that the presents of an interviewer will not affect the response of the respondent, hence make may data more valid.

I will use two different type of question in my questionnaire, both classified and multiple choices. This will allow me to both categories my respondents and find out their views on particular political issue for example “Voting is important to me”. Using both of this I will be able to make sure I cover all of my aims and contents.

When choosing my research I also had to make sure I could access the group in witch I wanted to study. I found that my desire group of 18-25 were easily accessible. As most of the people I work with are of a young age. I also found respondent within the college on the form of staff and students. I also managed to gather a wide range of social class from these people as most of the people I work with were either student or from the working class while the staff at college all had a university degree.

To make sure my questionnaire was ethical I decide to avoid asking question that were too personal to the respondent such as the name or who they voted for in the previous elections. This also helps as it helped me achieve a 100% completion rate, as no one was offended. Another ethical issue that I had to take into account was to make sure that I didn’t deceive my respondent by including question that could lead them to answer in a particular way. This also helps me back up the accuracy of my study because it shows that all my data is reliable and valid.

I decided to conduct my research by using a sample size of 30. This will allow me to product accurate result that can be interpreted. I will try to stratify my sample by using an equal number of male and female respondents and getting opinion from all different classes and backgrounds. I believe that this will help me produce the most reliable data for comparison.

There are some potential problems that could occur while conducting my research in order to avoid these I will first be conducting a pilot study on two respondents and be gaining their opinion and make assumption of my own. After conducting my pilot study I discovered that using the term unsure, as a possible answer was not a good idea as the respondent tended to choice to avoid giving their opinion. I decided to just use four scale of response in stead varying from 1 = strongly agree to 5 = strongly disagree. This allows me to gain reliable quantitative data that I can use for analysis. I also discovered that some of my questions were not fully understood by the participant, as clear instructions were not used in order to tell the person how to answer. For example on the classification question I didn’t tell the participant whether to circle the answer of to eliminate the incorrect answer this lead me to not understand witch answer the participate had chosen resulting in inaccurate results. The other way my pilot made me alter my questionnaire is that I left question five as an open question witch made it hard to analysis so I decide to give the participate a variety of answer to choose from instead witch also help as it allowed me to easily link my question to my contexts. Thought have no closed question can also have a negative approach on my investigation as I can not gain an depth to my respondent answer such as how they feel about politic as my answer are limited. Thought I must keep to positivist methods so this cannot be helped.

(852 words)


The aim of my research was to investigate the possible relationship between age and voting behaviour. Concentration in particular on the younger generation and their tendency not to bother voting.

        I have studied if the young people voted at all, why they do or do not vote, do young people believe political parties are becoming similar and to see if young people value politics today. Generally my findings suggest my hypothesis to be correct thought some arguments are not as strong as other as certain areas could not be explored fully.

        I also collected data that compared gender with the likelihood to vote. I found that female were more likely to vote than males. I discovered that only 1/3 of male opted to vote in 2005 and only 2/5 of female tended to vote. This could be down to the fact that women tend to be more open to the world around them. Thought the gender differences are interesting the main point of these statistics is that it shows that young people generally do not vote.


This statistical data support my hypothesis and the aim of investigating if young people vote. This data also support the view of Denver that the young have become disenchanted with voting. Also my result show that just over a third of young people are voting. This is the same amount as the BES found voted in their study in 2005.

        My result relating to the reasons behind young people voting also proved interesting. They show that six out of the nineteen that did not vote didn’t bother because they believed there vote would make a difference and eight claimed they had better thing to do than vote. The other five were either not old enough at the time or they had other reason. these  other reason were that one respondent was not registered to vote and didn’t know where to got o get information or register and the other was away abroad when the election took place and it proved impossible to get back to vote.  


These statistics support my hypothesis and help complete my second aim, find out why young people have become disenchanted, really well. These statistics support Denver (2001) views as he claims that young people were no longer voting because they were becoming apathetic. Meaning they didn’t follow politics or the election campaign as they “had better thing to do” such as partying and “living their life”. Thought the fact the statistic were not as high for the categories that people believed their vote wouldn’t make a difference discredited Billinghurst Study (2005) as he claimed that people were not voting because they believed their vote didn’t make a difference to who was in power.

        Question nine on my survey “I feel that my vote can have an important influence in politics” does represent Billinghurst view thought. This is because the results show us that not one respondent strongly agreed with this statement and only 8 agree.

Were 12 people disagreed with the statement and a further ten strongly disagreed. Therefore the majority of people believe that voting doesn’t influence politics and therefore doesn’t change anything


This support Billinghurst findings because it clearly show that people no longer find that there vote makes any difference to what the actual policies are because their vote cannot make any significant difference and fundamentally this leads to people not bothering to vote at all. This clearly satisfy my second aim of finding out why young people have become disenchanted because it shows a link between voting and the belief that voting doesn’t make a difference. Though three of the people that did vote still disagreed with the statement their vote can have an influence on politics. I would have liked to discover which party these individual voted for because that would have further validated my context because I believe we would have found they didn’t vote Labour or Conservative. Thought I was unable to do this as it was clearly unethical.

        My result on distinguishing whether or not people believe a lack  of political choice has an effect on voting also bring very positive result. Question eight on my survey, Labour one holds more right wing, Conservative value, is a great one to show this link. Ten out of the thirty strongly agreed with the statement a further eight agree while seven disagreed and a mere five strongly disagreed.


This support Crewe, Norris and Heaths statements that people can no longer distinguish between the two major parties. Once again I find myself wondering what parties these people voted for as I believe my result would have show a large number of votes for the liberal democrats. This is because the data seem to employs Crewe beliefs are correct and it would back up the data shown in the BES in 2001.

        I also decided that I need to make my case on this point stronger so I analysed the result from question twelve on my survey. I found that most people, 4/5 of my sample, either agreed or strongly agreed with this statement while only 1/5 believe there was a significant difference between labour and the conservative party. Although this data can be consider quite controversial. As the question above and this one are quite similar but the answer for the two are different. For example in the last one 2/5 disagree or strongly disagreed. This highlights a possible issue of unreliability within my result. This must be taken into account when analysing them.


Although it does supports the theory of the maintaining election, which states that when we have a general election there is no real change in party politics. We merely have the same policy just under a different name. These finding help to prove my hypothesis even more correct as they help me discover why young people are disenchanted with politics. Also they help me show my third aim of how lack of political choice is stopping young people voting.

        So my evidence does tend to support my original Hypothesis and aims and help to back up the majority of my context fully. This is because it clearly shows how the majority of the younger generation have become increasingly disenchanted with politics and the reason behind this disenchantment.

(1047 words)


When completed my research I discovered I had successfully managed to prove my hypothesis that “young people are disenchanted with politics” and complete all three of the aims that I had originally set. I did this using a variety of well thought out contexts and reliable and accurate primary data. Thought I also discovered other reason why young people didn’t vote such as the lack of education received from the government about voting and also the knowledge of how to register to vote if not already done.

        I believe the best part of my project was the fact I managed to collect reliable quantitative data on my particular research are and stuck to the positivist approach outlined in my methodology. This was because it allowed me to product data that was easy to interpret and analysis and come up with a solid conclusion.

Another successful part of my study was that I only studied age and voting behaviour instead of including qualities such as gender and class. This made my study more focuses on one particular area and stopped me going of the point in places. It also made my research easier as I didn’t have to determine class factor or get opinion from all different age groups and classes.

Thought the research method chosen could also be considered to be a weakness. This is because by discarding Interpretivist method I wasn’t able to reach the depth of answer required to fully answer parts of my aims, such as why young people don’t vote, fully. This meant the accuracy of my data can be question because by only using closed question the answer of limited witch could mean that some answer could be untrue and people may not really they could express themselves properly. I could improve on this by using a mixture of both functionalist and Interpretivist method to get a product that can be both analysed easily but contain some depth.

        Another weakness was my sample. This was due to the fact by using a sample of 30 it was not that representative of the younger generation. |This was because either the slightest anomaly could affect the data significantly. For example when only four people answered strongly disagree it came out as 1/6 of the population. I could use a bigger sample size if I were to repeat the data but I must remember to avoid it becoming unmanageable.

Another problem with the sample was that those people were only asked in the local community so the results are not representative of the whole population once more. This means that the accuracy and validity of my result could be questioned. Thought this can not be easily help because without a lot of financial backing and man power it hard to produce a sample representative of the population but I could define in my rational that it just for the Leicestershire area.

        Another weakness was that within the questionnaire some of the questions were still unclear, despite the use of the pilot study, hence making my result invalid. For example the two questions “Labour now holds more right wing, Conservative values” and “There is no significant difference in the main political parties in the UK.” Both hold similar meaning but the results given by these questions were quite different as more people answered strongly disagree and disagree for the first than the second. This means that the reliability of my researched could be questioned and maybe even declared invalid. In the future I would use more respondent in my pilot study or even consider having an interviewers present in case people get confused on certain question but I must also remember to not let the interviewers affect the respondent answers.

        Another weakness was the fact my study only had a few aims to back up my hypothesis. This meant that my context was less reliable and not so related to the investigation. I would try to include more if I was to do this again as it would allow me to get a better picture of the younger voters.  

(680 words)

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