Do peo­ple get more con­ser­va­tive with age?

Results of a life­long study fol­low­ing Ed­mon­to­ni­ans found peo­ple care less as they age

StarMetro Calgary - - THE KIT - HAMDI ISSAWI CODIE MCLACH­LAN FOR STARMETRO

Dr. Krahn is the lead on the study that fol­lows Ed­mon­to­ni­ans to see how they change over time. ED­MON­TON—The most re­cent results of a life­long study fol­low­ing Ed­mon­to­ni­ans for more than 30 years found that as peo­ple get older, and richer, they care less about the en­vi­ron­ment, racial and gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion, and treat­ment of Canada’s In­dige­nous peo­ple.

The Ed­mon­ton Tran­si­tions Study be­gan by fol­low­ing 983 lo­cal high school se­niors in 1985, re­con­nect­ing with them over the years to see how they’ve changed. Back in 1984, Al­berta’s un­em­ploy­ment rate jumped to 11.4 per cent, the high­est it has been in the last 42 years.

The minds be­hind the study wanted to learn how young Ed­mon­to­ni­ans com­ing of age in tough eco­nomic times would tran­si­tion to the work­force.

Harvey Krahn, a Univer­sity of Al­berta so­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor and one of the founders of the study, has been along for the 33-years-and-run­ning ride, sur­vey­ing par­tic­i­pants (then) by mail, tele­phone and now on­line.

“If I do a sur­vey and com­pare you and your fa­ther and your grand­fa­ther, I can’t nec­es­sar­ily as­sume that when you get to 25 years old, you’ll start think­ing like your dad, be­cause you were born and shaped in a dif­fer­ent era than he was, and your grand­fa­ther,” Krahn ex­plained.

“And so you re­ally need a study like ours to ac­tu­ally fol­low the same peo­ple and see if, as you get older, you change.”

Us­ing data from the 2010 check-in, when the par­tic­i­pants were 43, he wanted to learn if there was truth to an old say­ing: If you’re not a lib­eral at 25 you have no heart; if you’re not a con­ser­va­tive at 45, you have no brain.

In other words, do peo­ple be­come more con­ser­va­tive as they age?

“And it looks like, to some ex­tent, yes,” Krahn said.

But he was also in­ter­ested in the fac­tors con­nected to the shift, specif­i­cally whether or not higher ed­u­ca­tion, a ve­hi­cle for up­ward mo­bil­ity and, of­ten, a bet­ter in­come, played a role. Full story at thes­tar.com/ed­mon­ton

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