Voting Behavior Amongst Young Adults: An Analysis of Youth Nonvoters and how Behavioral Economic Concepts can be Applied to Increase Young Voter Turnout.

The title of my research is as followed: Voting Behavior Amongst Young Adults: An Analysis of Youth Nonvoters and how Behavioral Economic Concepts can be Applied to Increase Young Voter Turnout. The presidential election of 2016 displayed a poor voter turnout, especially among young adults. Yet, youth are heavily affected by policy changes politicians make. This research analysis seeks to first answer the question: What are the significant factors that discourage young voter turnout? Then, it will analyze behavioral economic concepts that could be applied to increase the voter turnout amongst that age group.  Persuading young people to exercise their right to vote and to make more rational decisions towards voting will aid the issue of voter presence in presidential elections. Recent studies reveal that the effects of behavioral economics have a great impact on an individual’s decisions by using positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions. This study has three major objectives:

  1. To determine the factors that discourage the youth from voting within the United States.
  2. To discuss the rationality and irrationality of young voters decision making.
  3. To provide possible solutions using behavioral economic concepts to encourage young adults to vote.

For this study, it is necessary to gather recent exit poll data and analyze what the causal relationships between nonvoting and demographic factors, such as family income, gender, education, race, etc are. The Current Population Survey (CPS) derives from the monthly microdata of the United States Labor Force Survey. The CPS includes demographic information, employment data, and supplemental data, such as voter registration which makes it imperative to this study. After consolidating this data, I will conduct several statistical regression analysis’ about the factors that discourage people ages 18 to 24 to vote. First, I will examine the results for the presidential election in 2016 across all 50 states, then I will examine the results across several past presidential and congressional elections. Once I conclude what factors are positively or negatively significant, I will explain several behavioral economic concepts to ratify the issue of nonvoting amongst young people. Behavioral economics is a mixture of traditional economic theory and psychological theory. Concepts may include certain types of nudges, such as default options and anchoring approaches to encourage the youth to vote.

Learning what factors truly affect the youth’s decision to not vote is extremely important so that states can take action to eradicate the issue of low voter turnout. This research is sought to allow people to gain a  different insight on the various ways we can target this issue through the use of the newly developed behavioral economic concepts.