The Mechanical Effects of Lowering the Voting Age to 16: Empirical Evidence from Around the World

The Mechanical Effects of Lowering the Voting Age to 16: Empirical Evidence from Around the World
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

In Australia and a growing number of countries around the world, debates about democratic inclusion once more revolve around the minimum voting age. Countries such as Austria, Brazil, and Argentina have lowered the voting age to 16, while others, including Belgium, Norway, and Canada, have trialled reform or seen campaigns seeking to enfranchise younger people. Debates around voting age reform often centre on the so-called “mechanical” effects: Does the inclusion of younger voters increase turnout? Does it affect electoral outcomes? And do such reforms increase the political representation of young people? These questions are often difficult to address from a comparative perspective, as reforms and effects vary across countries. Moreover, a lack of comparative data makes it challenging to unveil cross-country patterns. This presentation introduces insights from the Comparative Age Reform Project, a new comparative expert survey conducted in more than 30 countries examining voting age reforms and campaigns. The evidence allows for a first-time systematic comparison of the effects of voting age reforms and campaigns on several democratic outcomes.

Dr. Constanza Sanhueza Petrarca is a Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the School of Politics and International Relations at ANU. Previously, she held academic positions at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center, the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg, and Sciences-Po Paris. She obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Mannheim. Constanza’s research focuses on democracy, elections, and political representations in Europe and around the world, using survey, experimental, and text data. Her work has been published in – among others- the Journals of Democratization, Governance, and Party Politics. Constanza is also Associate Editor of the Journal Representation (Taylor & Francis).

Date & time

Thu 25 May 2023, 11am–12.30pm


RSSS room 3.72 or Online via Zoom


Constanza Sanhueza


Quynh Nguyen


Updated:  3 April 2023/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications