Not Too Young to Run? Age requirements and young people in elected office

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Mona Lena Krook
Mary K. Nugent


Promoting youth representation in parliaments is a growing global priority. To promote youth leadership and more inclusive politics, youth organizations in Nigeria mobilized successfully for a constitutional reform to lower the eligibility age to run for political office. In this paper, we draw on global data to assess whether lower eligibility ages will in fact lead to higher levels of youth participation. We find that lower age requirements positively affect the representation of the youngest and next youngest cohorts in parliament. We draw on qualitative interviews and gender literature to theorize that lower age limits have immediate and longer-term “mobilizing effects”, shifting the calculations of potential candidates in terms of the age at which they first decide to run for office.

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Author Biographies

Mona Lena Krook, Rutgers University

Mona Lena Krook is professor of Political Science at Rutgers University (USA). She has written widely on the diffusion and implementation of electoral quotas for women, including several award-winning books and articles. She has worked closely with the Inter-Parliamentary Union since 2014 on tracking and analyzing the representation of young people in national parliaments around the world.

Mary K. Nugent, Rutgers University

Mary K. Nugent is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Rutgers University (USA). Her doctoral thesis, ‘When Does He Speak for She? Men Representing Women in Parliament’, examines when, why, and how male politicians represent women’s interests in legislatures. Mary is also a 2018-19 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.