2023 JFIPP Research Fellow - Liam Gammon

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Liam Gammon

Research Fellow, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

[Project Title]
Youth Bulges, Economic Inclusion and Democratic Legitimacy in Southeast Asia

Project Summary

My proposed research project examines the political demography of the ‘youth bulge’ in two major middle-income Indo-Pacific democracies, Indonesia and Malaysia. In many high-income economies in the West, young peoples’ sense of economic exclusion has seen their support for democracy decline in opinion polls, and young voters have become an important part of anti-establishment populist movements’ electoral bases. Yet the available survey research from high-income democracies in East Asia (Japan, South Korea and Taiwan) suggests a different pattern, with more moderate inter-generational differences in support for democracy and generally increasing support for democracy over the life cycle.

Yet it is hard to pinpoint from available research whether this is a function of better economic inclusion of young people in Asia relative to other advanced democracies, and whether these patterns are true of less-developed democracies in East Asia. My study seeks to provide evidence of how young peoples’ understanding of their economic prospects shape their political values by analysing national survey databases held by Indonesia and the Philippines’ premier polling agencies, and conducting new survey research as part of their regular national voter surveys. Alongside this, I shall conduct interviews with government officials, politicians, experts and representatives of business and employer organisations in Indonesia and the Philippines to gain insights into how governments and stakeholders are responding to the urgent need to ensure economies deliver for a generation of voters whose education and access to technology may give them distintively high expectations for their economic opportunities.

The Japan-based component of the Fellowship would give me the valuable opportunity to gain input from the large community of scholars in Japanese universities and research institutions working on the politics, economies, and demographics of the developing Indo-Pacific, providing a basis for further research on these topics in collaboration with Japanese colleagues.

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