EdPolicyWorks Seminar Series


Mar 2, 2020 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

Speaker: John Holbein

Logistics: Monday, March 2nd from 12:00 - 1:30pm in Bavaro Hall, Holloway Hall (Rm 116)

Title: National Service Substantially Increases Dismal Rates of Youth Civic Participation: Evidence from Teach for America

Abstract: The United States hasone of the, if not the, lowest rates of youth political participation in the world. Low, and by some accounts declining, rates of citizen engagement threaten to undercut the social capital that holds communities together and undermine the basic pillars of democracy. However, little is known about how to address dismal rates of youth civic participation. In this paper, we examine the causal effect of a recently proposed large-scale solution: national service. Leveraging a large scale sample of young people matched to nation wide voter files and a unique natural experiment, we explore the causal effect of admittance and participation in Teach For America---a prominent national service program that integrates college graduates into low-income schools for two years. We find that Teach For America has a large and a long-lasting effect on youth political participation---substantially increasing the voting and party joining of participants. Our results show that national service programshave a great potential to help ameliorate narrow the stubborn gap between youngand older citizens in the United States.

Bio: John B. Holbein is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. He also has a courtesy appointment in the Curry School of Education and Human Development. He studies political participation, political inequality, democratic accountability, political representation, and education policy. His work has been published in the American Political Science Review,the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, the Economics of Education Review, and Nature Human Behavior (to name a few). His research has been supported by two large National Science Foundation grants. His book--Making Young Voters: Converting Civic Attitudes into Civic Action--is forthcoming at Cambridge University Press. His work has been covered by outlets such as the Washington Post, Vox, New York Magazine, the Boston Globe, NPR, Bloomberg, Politico, Fast Company, Salon, Business Insider, the 74, VoxEu, and FiveThirtyEight.