Assessing the widening age gap in British partisanship: The impact of values, maturation, and political mobilization

Laura Serra

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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In Britain, age has traditionally been a strong predictor of vote choice, with older people much more likely to vote for the Conservatives and younger people much more likely to vote for Labour or the Liberal Democrats. Remarkably, this age gap has increased consistently over the last three general elections and was also well reflected in the 2016 EU membership referendum, with younger voters much more likely to support Remain over Leave, leading scholars and polling agencies alike to note that age appears to have become the new distinctive cleavage in voting behaviour. This thesis contributes to the growing interest in this field of research by examining how age-related characteristics influence electoral choices from three different perspectives. The project comprises three research papers. Using over time British Election Study data, the first paper examines the link between age, education, and liberal-authoritarian and left-right values. The second paper considers the influence of life-cycle effects and tests the impact of the delayed transition into adulthood on Conservative voting. The third paper shifts the focus to the supply-side and using a specially designed survey experiment tests the impact of political appeals directed at younger cohorts on the age gap in party support.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Heath, Oliver, Supervisor
  • Hanretty, Christopher, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date1 Sept 2023
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023


  • Electoral politics
  • political behaviour
  • Voting behavior
  • Age gap
  • Generational differences
  • generational politics

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