Education levels an interest in politics: the Portuguese outlier

Relationship between average years in education and interest in politics (2012)

In a post published on the LSE EUROPP blog, I showed that the proportion of people that do not have any interest in politics whatsoever is much larger in Portugal than in other similar countries. This might be a reason why there hasn’t been an upsurge in support for radical left alternatives in spite of austerity policies in this country. Less politicized voters prefer abstention rather than voice. This was shown by a classic analysis by Daniel Gaxie in France.

Now why are people not interested in politics in Portugal? We know that interest in politics is strongly correlated to levels of education, and it happens that the Portuguese electorate is also one of the least educated measured by average years of full-time education completed. In the above graph I have plotted data from Wave 6 of the European Social Survey (2012). It shows the relationship between average years in full-time education per country, and average interest in politics on a scale from 0 (no interest) to 3 (very interested). There is a positive relationship (it also holds within Portugal, in graph 2), and Portugal clearly stands out.

Interest in politics and years spent in education, Portugal (2014)

2 responses to “Education levels an interest in politics: the Portuguese outlier”

  1. The first plot could be better fitted adding a quadratic term, and it would change the perception people have with those results. In fact, we can see in the second plot that (at least for the Portuguese reality) education does indeed correlate with interest in politics, once you enter higher education, it doesn’t seem to affect a lot throughout those who studied between elementary and high school. This could justify the quadratic behaviour of the first plot.

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