Date of Award

December 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Institute on Family and Community Life

Committee Member

Martie Thompson

Committee Member

Bonnie Holaday

Committee Member

Susan P. Limber

Committee Member

Natallia Sianko


There is a robust literature that documents the importance of youth civic engagement, both at the individual and societal levels. Moreover, young people's civic activism is vital for strengthening democracy in developing and transitional countries, such as Kosovo. Despite the abundant literature at the global level, mainly in Western countries, there is a lack of research on the level and dynamics of young people's civic engagement in developing countries, especially in the Western Balkans. Although there has been progress in recent years, youth civic activism remains understudied in the region. Using data from the Kosovo Youth Study 2018/2019, this study examined psychological, social and political correlates of civic engagement among young people in Kosovo who are aged 14-29 years old. Youth civic engagement was measured using two outcomes, volunteering and political engagement. First, the study examined if gender, age groups, residency, and socioeconomic status predicted youth civic engagement. Next, both logistic and linear regression were used to test youth civic engagement predictors (concern about societal issues, youth optimism, social trust, internal and external political efficacy). Bivariate analyses tested the individual associations of each predictor with the two outcomes. Then, multivariate analyses were used to test the unique associations between each predictor and the two respective outcomes when controlling for the other predictors. Lastly, mediation analysis was used to investigate if trust in national institutions acted as a mediator in the association between young people’s generalized trust and their level of civic engagement. All models included covariates for age groups, gender, residency, and socioeconomic status. Results showed demographic variables to be significant correlates for political engagement. However, for volunteering, only residency was significant. Concerns about societal issues, social trust, interest in politics, and belief that young people’s interests are well represented in national politics were significant predictors of both volunteering and political engagement. Intention to vote was only significant to volunteering, whereas optimism about the country’s future and discussion of politics with family and acquaintances were significant predictors of political engagement only. The multivariate analysis yielded similar results. Lastly, mediation analysis showed a direct effect of social trust on trust in institutions and volunteering, but no indirect effect was observed. In the political engagement model, the direct effect of social trust on political engagement was significant. Similarly, the indirect effect of trust in institutions in social trust and political engagement was significant. The results of this study support some prior research showing that youth civic engagement is associated with certain demographic characteristics, and that concern about societal issues (prosocial values), optimism, social trust, internal and external political efficacy are correlated to different forms of civic engagement. The results of this study could help policymakers and youth programme designers to tailor programs that consider and address underlying issues related to the lack of civic engagement among youth. Keywords: youth civic engagement, correlates, youth optimism, concern about societal issues, trust, political efficacy



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