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 MPIfG Books



Achim Goerres
The Political Participation of Older People in Europe
The Greying of our Democracies

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
240 pages | ISBN 978-0-230-22052-2 | £ 60,00
Order book directly from Palgrave Macmillan



Abstract | Contents | Reviews | Author




European democracies are ageing, which makes older people one of the largest groups in democratic politics in the first half of the 21st century. How and why do older people differ in their political participation from younger people? This book opposes the idea that a political ‘war of the generations’ will be waged in ageing societies. Its objective is to put the debate about the political behaviour of older people on a sound empirical basis and to generate a more balanced view. Older people do not behave uniformly in a different manner from younger people across European societies. For political participation in later life, it matters where and when individuals have grown up and in which country context they become old.



Introduction: The Political Participation of Older People in an Era of Demographic Ageing
An Age-Centred Model of Political Participation
Voting Participation
Party Choice in Britain and West Germany
Membership of Political Organisations
Non-institutionalised Participation outside Organisations
The Experience of Older Participants in the English Council Tax Protests in 2004/2005
Summary and Conclusions



"Achim Goerres has written a highly informative and conceptually rich contribution to understanding political participation by older persons. This important study, with cross-national data from 21 European nations, is an empirically-grounded antidote to simplistic assertions that intergenerational political wars will be waged in aging societies."
Robert H. Binstock, Professor of Ageing, Health, and Society, Case Western Reserve University, USA
"Achim Goerres has written the most important new book on the political participation of old and young in a generation. With sophisticated and nuanced analyses of cross-national, cross-time data, he overturns one conventional wisdom after another about the political impact of aging populations. This is a must-read for scholars and policymakers alike."
Andrea Louise Campbell, Associate Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
"Retired majorities will gather at the gates of liberal democracies shortly. With impressive empirical arguments Achim Goerres dissects the trendy fears for harsh generational battles between politically organized pensioners and uninvolved youngsters. Amid an ocean of research on youth political behaviour his appeal for a 'political gerontology' is very timely, revealing and thoroughly documented. The apocalypse of greying democracies is not near, but age differences in political participation urgently call for empirical evidence so skilfully presented here."
Jan van Deth, Professor of Political Science and International Comparative Social Research, University of Mannheim, Germany
"Age related differences in political participation are becoming more and more significant over time, so Achim Goerres examines an issue of growing importance to social scientists in general and political scientists in particular in this book. He makes an important contribution to our understanding of the participation of older people and their impact on the political process and on political outcomes."
Paul F. Whiteley, Professor of Government, University of Essex, UK



Achim Goerres has been Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Cologne, Germany since 2008. After completing his PhD at the LSE, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies before moving to the University of Cologne. His research interests include the comparative politics of ageing societies, comparative political behaviour and applied research methods.

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