Adolescent Civic Engagement and Adult Outcomes: An Examination Among Urban Racial Minorities

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Civic engagement in adolescence is encouraged because it is hypothesized to promote better civic, social, and behavioral outcomes. However, few studies have examined the effects of civic engagement on youth development over time. In particular, the long-term association between adolescent civic engagement and development among racial minority youth who are exposed to high levels of risk factors is understudied. Using data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS; N = 854; 56.6 % were female; 93 % were African Americans and 7 % were Latinos), this study examined the associations between civic engagement in adolescence and outcomes during emerging adulthood among racial minority youth. Regression analyses found that civic engagement in adolescence is related to higher life satisfaction, civic participation, and educational attainment, and is related to lower rates of arrest in emerging adulthood. The findings suggest that adolescent civic engagement is most impactful in affecting civic and educational outcomes in emerging adulthood. The present study contributes to the literature by providing support for the long-term associations between adolescent civic engagement and multiple developmental domains in adulthood among an inner-city minority cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1829-1843
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 9 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Preparation of this article was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Research Service Award Program awarded to Wing Yi Chan, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD034294). Part of the results from this study was presented at the 5th Annual Emerging Adulthood Conference in Providence, RI.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Civic engagement
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Racial minority youth


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