© C.T. Henry

Prof Dr Achim Goerres

Achim.Goerres “at” uni-due.de

 

University of Duisburg-Essen

Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Political Science

Lotharstr. 65

47057 Duisburg

 

Phone +49 (0) 203 379 – 3615 (direct), -1385 (secret.)

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Main Results

Achim Goerres

This page summarises my main empirical findings that are of general interest. Press coverage can be found here.

  1. The “Grey Vote”: how do older voters differ from younger voters?
  • findings cited in the Handelsblatt and the Tagesspiegel and numerous other papers
  • West Germany and Britain (England, Wales, Scotland)
  • There is NO growing conservatism expressed in party choice associated with higher age.
  • As voters age in West Germany, they show an increasing tendency to favour the established parties over smaller ones.
  • Older voters belong to a different birth cohort that was influenced by different political circumstances at the time of early elections. For example, those who first went to the polls in the era of Brandt and Schmidt are much more pro-SPD than earlier generations because they were caught by the growing popularity of the SPD at the time if their first elections.
  • Differences between generations become less because voting decision increasingly influenced by evaluation of the leading candidate and not early party identification. Soon, older and younger voters will become indistinguishable from each other.
  1. Can we reform the welfare state in times of ‘grey’ majorities?
  • YES; no evidence for electoral antagonism between younger and older voters
  • Older voters’ voting decision not primarily influenced by life cycle interests; rather other interests more important and also intergenerational solidarity has an impact.
  • If there were referenda on life cycle issues (e.g. pension reforms), there would be some differences in voting behaviour going back to age
  1. What would the consequences be if German parents received extra votes for their children?
  • Differences between parents and people without children in Germany are small with regard to their party choice
  • Simulated results for the elections 1994 to 2005 show that the CDU/CSU would be losing slightly whereas B’90/Greens would be winning slightly.
  1. Do preferences towards the welfare state differ between young and old?
  • Yes, but it depends (a) on the policy area and (b) on the country
  • in some policy areas, like education, the life cycle salience is strong, in others, surprisingly pension policy, income is a much stronger dividing line.
  • Some countries show a strong age cleavage across all policy areas, such as the United States. Some, like West Germany, only a very small one across all policy areas.
  1. Does intergenerational solidarity matter for what people expect from the welfare state?
  • Older people who have more contact and more help exchanges to/from their adult children and more support for family values show a higher likelihood to support public childcare provisions, a policy that does not benefit them directly, but those they are involved with.
  • Solidarity in the family matters more in conservative welfare states, like Germany. In some contexts, like the United States, there is no connection at all.

6.    Is the German counting process solid?

  • There are indications of fraud or mismanagement if one applies Benford’s Law to the official returns.
  • The more dominant a party is in a Bundesland, the more likely there is a problem.