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Does social capital enhance political participation of older adults? A multi-level analysis of older Finns and Swedes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2020

Mikael Nygård*
Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, PB 311, 65101, VASA, Finland
Fredrica Nyqvist
Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, PB 311, 65101, VASA, Finland
Wouter Steenbeek
Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Gunborg Jakobsson
Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, PB 311, 65101, VASA, Finland
*Corresponding author. Email:


This article contributes to the literature on political gerontology by analysing the role that social capital plays in the political participation of older adults. More specifically, the aim is to test the importance of individual-level and contextual-level social capital for different types of political participation of older adults in a Scandinavian setting by using survey data from Finland and Sweden (N = 6838). The results show that even though membership in voluntary associations, intense social networks and high levels of interpersonal trust tend to be positively correlated with political participation of older adults as a whole, the explanative logic differs between them depending on the kind of political engagement. The only type of social capital with a robust positive impact on all dimensions of political participation was individual-level membership in voluntary associations.

Research Article
Copyright © 2015 Taylor & Francis

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