Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Institute on Family and Community Life

Committee Member

Martie P Thompson

Committee Member

Susan Limber

Committee Member

Natallia Sianko

Abstract

Civic engagement is beneficial for young people and for democracy, especially for post-Communist countries like Albania which is struggling to establish a stable and fair democracy. To describe citizens’ civic behavior using social capital as a framework, this work hypothesized that there would be significant age, gender, and urbanicity differences related to youth civic engagement. Moreover, both youth optimism and young people’s attitudes to the political system were hypothesized to be positively associated with youth civic engagement when controlling for age, gender, and urbanicity. Finally, this study hypothesized that age, gender, and urbanicity would significantly moderate the associations between youth optimism and young people’s attitudes to the political system with youth civic engagement. Using data from the Child Well-being 2016 dataset, results showed that there are significant age differences related to youth civic engagement where younger adolescents ages 12-14 had significantly higher levels of civic engagement than older adolescents ages 15-19. Next, the results revealed that there were unique associations between youth optimism and young people’s attitudes to the political system with youth civic engagement when controlling for age, gender, and urbanicity. Young people’s attitudes to the political system, youth optimism, and age (12-14 years old) contributed most to the prediction of youth civic engagement. In addition, moderation analysis uncovered that age (12-14 years old) significantly moderated the associations between youth optimism and young people’s attitudes to the political system with youth civic engagement. Finally, the results indicated that urbanicity (urban youth) significantly moderated the association between youth optimism and youth civic engagement. This work was limited by its use of secondary data reported by adolescents. Future research is needed to develop more strategies and programs to increase and improve youth civic engagement, especially among older adolescents living in rural areas in a post-Communist country like Albania.

Keywords: youth civic engagement, political system, attitudes, optimism, post-Communist

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