Age, Period and Cohort Effects in the Decline of Party Identification in Germany

Party identification traditionally is seen as an important linkage mechanism, connecting voters to the party system. Previous analyses have suggested that the level of party identity is in decline in Germany, and this article first expands previous observations with more recent data. These suggest that the erosion of party identity continues up to the present time. An age–period–cohort analysis of the panel data of the SOEP panel suggests that period effects are significantly negative. Furthermore, it can be observed that throughout the 1992–2009 observation period, education level and political interest have become more important determinants of party identity. Contrary to some of the literature, therefore, it can be shown that the loss of party identity is concentrated among groups with lower levels of political sophistication, indicating that the socio-economic profile of the group with a sense of party identification has become more distinct compared to the population as a whole. In the discussion, we investigate the theoretical and democratic consequences of this trend.


This content has been updated on 2 October 2016 at 9 h 32 min.