Abstract: Our article investigates political engagement among youth with and without an immigration background. Tapping to current debates on intergenerational assimilation processes in Europe, we look at differences in levels of political interest between immigrants, children of immigrants and natives. In particular, we argue that such differences are a function of respondents’ identification with the receiving society. We predict that among respondents with an immigrant background higher levels of national identification will be positively correlated with political interest. Among natives, political interest will not depend on levels of national identification. These expectations reflect the ideas of the social identity perspective according to which group identification increases adherence to group norms and adherence to norms is stronger among individuals who suffer from identity uncertainty. We test our model in four European countries: England, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden, using data from the CILS4EU project. Our findings indicate that interest in the politics of the survey country differs between respondents with and without an immigrant background. Respondents with an immigrant background who also have a strong national identification are more likely to report a political interest than natives. Respondents with an immigrant background who have a low national identification, are less likely to report a political interest than natives. The findings also reveal that political discussions at home and associationism positively predict political interest whereas girls show significantly lower odds to be politically interested.
Keywords: assimilation; CILS4EU project; immigrant background; national identification; political interest; youth