Study: Factors associated with voting

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Voting rates in the May 2011 federal election increased with both age and education, although the impact of education was much stronger among younger voters.

For example, among people aged 25 to 34, the difference in voting between those with at least a bachelor's degree and those with less than a high school education was 42 percentage points. This gap narrowed to 10 percentage points among people aged 55 and over.

After controlling for education and other factors, 25- to 34-year-olds were 15 percentage points less likely to vote than 45- to 54-year-olds, while 65- to 74-year-olds were 19 percentage points more likely to vote than 45- to 54-year-olds.

The presence of children was associated with lower voting rates in all family types. The effect was particularly strong for single parents, as 36% of those with children under age 5 voted, compared with 60% of couples with children the same age.

Overall, immigrant citizens were less likely to vote than people born in Canada, but voting rates generally increased with time in Canada.

Employed people were more likely to vote than the unemployed or those not in the labour force after controls were in place for factors like age and education. Among the employed, those working in the public sector or in high-skill occupations were most likely to vote. Voting rates were lower for those working 40 hours or more per week, and for those in less-skilled occupations.

Home owners had significantly higher voting rates than renters.

Note: This article examines the factors associated with voting in the May 2, 2011, federal election. Data were derived from three questions added to the May 2011 Labour Force Survey, commissioned by Elections Canada, to determine the main reasons some Canadians did not vote in the election. These voluntary questions were: Are you a Canadian citizen?; Did you vote in the recent federal election held on Monday, May 2, 2011?; and, if they did not vote, What is the main reason you did not vote?

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3701.

The article "Factors associated with voting" is now available in the February 2012 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 24, no. 1 (75-001-X, free), from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Sharanjit Uppal (613-951-3887; or Sébastien LaRochelle-Côté (613-951-0803;, Labour Statistics Division.

For more information on Perspectives on Labour and Income, contact Ted Wannell (613-951-3546;, Labour Statistics Division.