Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Health and voter turnout: is there a link?

19 December 2019

New research from ICLS asks whether being in poor health affects turnout at general elections in the UK

Polling station

People in poor health are less likely to vote in general elections and this may be reinforcing social inequalities in voter turnout according to new research from the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies.  

The research, which made use of data from the 1958 and 1970 Birth Cohorts, showed that compared with people in good health, those who said they were in fair health had 15% and 18% lower odds of voting whilst those in poor or worse health had 17% and 32% lower odds of voting.

Thierry Gagné and colleagues analysed information from 1958 Cohort participants between the ages of 23 and 55 and 1970 cohort members between the ages 30 and 42.

Thierry commented:

"Our findings indicate that being in poor health plays a role in adults not voting, particularly during young adulthood. This is generally believed to be an important period in people's lives when voting habits are being formed. The findings also support the argument that those in poor health are likely to suffer a lack of political power over their life-course, which in turn reinforces inequalities in voting and health."