Youth quake: young people and the 2017 general election

Document type
Sloam, James; Ehsan, Muhammad Rakib
Intergenerational Foundation
Date of publication
26 November 2017
Social Policy, Children and Young People, Older Adults
Social welfare
Material type

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The 2017 general election result was described as a ‘youthquake’,  a shock result founded on an unexpected surge in youth turnout. The vast majority of 18–24 year olds supported Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, this resulted in the loss of the Conservative Party’s majority in the House of Commons.

This analysis of polling data shows the following:

  • Youth turnout in the election increased dramatically – the participation of 18–24 year olds was up from 43% to 64% - to levels not seen since the early 1990s.
  • The difference between the participation of 18–24 year olds and all citizens shrank from minus 23 points in 2015 to minus 4 points in 2017.
  • Youth turnout was, however, highly dependent upon a young person’s social grade, occupational status and ethnicity: 68% of 18–24 year olds of a high social grade (AB) voted, compared to just 50% of those of a low social grade (DE).

Academic studies have pointed to falling youth participation in electoral politics. In the UK, the turnout of 18–24 year olds in general elections fell from 63% in 1992 to an average of 40% from 2002 to 2015 (the lowest rate in Western Europe). Younger citizens have become increasingly driven by issues and are less likely to identify with a political party.

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