Civic Engagement Patterns and Transitions Over 8 Years: The AmeriCorps National Study

Document Type



Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (CGU)

Publication Date



Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Latent transition analysis was used to examine civic engagement transitions across 2 waves spanning 8 years in a sample of AmeriCorps participants and a comparison group (N = 1,344; 77% female). Latent indicators of civic engagement included volunteering, community participation, civic organizational involvement, local and national voting, civic consciousness, and perceptions of civic knowledge. Three latent statuses were identified; inactive, voting involved, andhighly committed. Consistent with life cycle theories of political engagement, the inactive status was most prevalent at Wave 1 and the voting-involved status most prevalent at Wave 4. AmeriCorps members were less involved in voting at Wave 1 but, among voters, were more likely to become highly committed by Wave 4. Compared with those who did not attend college, those who did had higher levels of civic engagement initially and over time. Young participants and Asian youths demonstrated lower levels of involvement initially compared with older participants or White youths. Findings suggest that national service programs geared toward young people who are not in college may hold promise for addressing gaps in civic engagement.

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© 2011 American Psychological Association

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