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Cross country differences in political knowledge in Europe: The role of civic education in the school.

Gema García Albacete
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Gema García Albacete
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Irene Martín
Universidad Autònoma de Madrid – Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos del CSIC
Open Panel

Abstract

Two developments signal the relevance of understanding the origins of political orientations and have revitalized the study of political socialization processes in the last years. On one hand, declining trends in political involvement on traditional politics such as political parties and the electoral process seems to be a generational trend brought by the younger cohorts in diverse Western democracies. Secondly, recent research suggests that political attitudes have already developed at an early age. Prior’s (2010) study on individuals’ political interest found little change over the life cycle in several European countries. On their part, van Deth, Abendschön and Vollmar (2010) show that there are significant differences among German students in their levels of political interest and knowledge already in early formative stages. The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study, conducted in 2009, offers an unique opportunity to explore the role of schools in the development of political knowledge. It allows comparing students’ political knowledge levels in a large number of countries and to control for several individual and contextual characteristics. Within the contextual data gathered in this project, national reports showed considerably diversity across European countries with respect to policy-related definitions of civic and citizenship education (Kerr et al., 2010). Using multilevel modeling this paper will focus on examining empirically the role of education civic contents, policies and country specific contextual determinants to understand the variability of civic knowledge scores across countries.