Does political participation make individuals more satisfied with their lives? Scholars of classical philosophy and participatory democracy suggest that participation in political activities is indeed a fundamental tenet of individual wellbeing. However, even though political participation is one of the most intensively studied topics in political science for decades, the relationship with individual wellbeing only recently started to gather some attention. So far, the existing empirical research has come to inconclusive results. In this study, we first re-examine the theoretical relationships between political participation and wellbeing. Secondly, using panel data from the Netherlands, we assess empirically the causal relations between taking part in political activities and individual life satisfaction. We give special attention to the role of political efficacy in this relationship. Employing structural equation modeling and correcting for measurement error, we find no evidence of a substantive effect of political participation on life satisfaction.
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