Finding 7: Voting

Students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are 20% more likely to vote as young adults 

Using time diaries compiled over four days at age16 by participants in the British Cohort Study of 1970, and controlling for other factors such as family background, Robson found that art and music-related leisure, reading for pleasure and visiting a museum during the reference period at age16 increased the odds of civic engagement at 29 (2003: p.23).

Catterall found that high-arts students are about 15 percent more likely to register to vote, more than 30 percent more likely to have voted in the most recent presidential election, and about 20 percent more likely to have voted in any election in the 24 months leading to the last NELS survey panel (Catterall, 2009: p.64). Young adults who had arts-rich experiences in high school were more likely to vote and/or to participate in a political campaign. Virtually all of these differences were observed only in low socio-economic status groups. 


Catterall, James S. Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art (Los Angeles: I-Group Books, 2009) 

Robson, Karen. ‘Teenage Time Use as Investment in Cultural Capital’ Working Papers of the Institute for Social and Economic Research paper 2003–12 (Colchester: University of Essex, 2003)