Publication of New Report: Democratic Values in Secondary Education Year 4 (2021/2022)

In this fourth report, we examine young people's views on the democratic rule of law in the fourth year of secondary education. It is an important year, because this is the last year that we can compare all types of education: after this school year, in fact, our panel students in the pre-vocational track leave secondary education. It is also an interesting year, because we can finally see whether some of the trends we observed in the third year persist, or turned out to be a mere consequence of the 2021 parliamentary elections and the COVID-19 pandemic.

We draw two overarching conclusions. First, we see that students in year 4 are attached to democracy. They consider it as important to live in a democracy as they did in year 3. Representative democracy is still the most popular form of government. Adolescents also seem to think more positively about working in politics themselves, although political efficacy remains constant. In addition, young people talk more about politics and society with parents, teachers and friends than in previous years. Only the previously increased intention to vote later fell back to its level in year 2. At the same time, trust in officeholders remains lower than in years 1 and 2. Trust in politicians declines even further. Students' trust that politicians listen to people like them and their parents increased somewhat, but still much lower than in the first two years. Finally, we see that students in year 4 have begun to place somewhat more emphasis on the individual than on the community: more privacy over safety, more freedom of speech over not hurting others, or more getting your own way over obeying the law. This trend must be understood against the backdrop that young people mostly do not take outspoken positions.

The second overarching conclusion concerns persistent differences between groups. The major differences between education types VWO, HAVO and VMBO), which have been present since the beginning of high school, remain the most significant group difference. VWO students are the most attached to democracy, have the most political confidence and efficacy, report the highest propensity to vote, and have the most political ambition. Students in VMBO score much lower on all these characteristics by comparison. These differences already exist at the start of high school, and cannot be attributed to the school. They may be maintained in part by students' friend network: most of their best friends are from the same class. Also, young people express largely the same views on politics and society as their friends.

The full report is available here.

Upcoming report

Our fourth annual report will be released soon. In this report, we discuss the results of our research on support for democratic values among students in their fourth year of secondary school in school year 2021-2022. Among other things, we present their values and attitudes compared to those in their first, second and third year of secondary education, as well as the differences that exist based on gender, school type and migration background. The report thus offers important insights for the state of democratic values among young people in the Netherlands.

In addition, we will provide all participating schools with a report that charts the state and development of democratic values among its fifth-year students in school year 2022-2023. These reports allow schools to not only follow the developments in their school, but also how their students score on average compared to a (fictitious) school with similar characteristics. We hope that these reports can help schools improve their citizenship education.


This year, we are once again in full preparation for the data collection of the sixth (and final) round of the DAPDV study! This means that our team will again be visiting secondary schools across the country as of November to ask students for their opinions on democracy and society. Since the Dutch political field is currently relatively open, and many of our students will reach the voting age of 18 this year, we are very excited to see whether and how their political attitudes will change. The logistics around the data collection are this year in safe hands with Sandy Kempen, Michelle Rosmalen and Twan Huijsmans.

At the same time, Sandy Kempen, Michelle Rosmalen and Twan Huijsmans are also new members of the DAPDV team! We are very pleased to welcome them. If you want to read more about who they are and what they do, visit the team page and click on their photos. If you are not yet satisfied and have pressing questions about who we are, what we do or more, feel free to contact us at!

Furthermore, we are currently busy finalising the Year 4 report, in which we discuss the results of the fourth-year students in the 2021-2022 school year. The report will be released soon. During the fourth round of this study, many schools had adjusted their teaching to the COVID-19 measures. As a result, we were able to collect data among a larger number of students than in school year 2020-2021. In addition, we have once again examined adolescents’ support for core democratic values compared to the first, second and third school year. You can read more about this in the Year 4 report, which will appear soon on this site!

Publication of New Report: Democratic Values in Secondary Education Year 3 (2020/2021)

After an eventful year with parliamentary elections and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to take stock. How do students in secondary education currently perceive politics and democracy? In this third report of the Dutch Adolescent Panel on Democratic Values (DAPDV) project, we follow the development of students' attitudes and values in the first three years of secondary education.

Compared to previous years, the picture in the third year is more positive. Third-year students show stronger attachment to representative democracy, both in their values and behavioral intentions. This is evident, for example, in their increased importance placed on living in a democracy, higher intention to vote, and greater political knowledge, interest, and confidence in their own (political) abilities.

This does not mean that young people have blind trust in politics. Trust in (political) officeholders continues to decline, as does the belief that politicians listen to people like them and their parents. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing: a healthy democracy benefits from citizens being attached to democracy while maintaining a critical attitude towards political representatives.

Furthermore, students become more aware of their own position and self-interest in the third year of secondary education. Although they still actively choose for the community, they place slightly more emphasis on the individual compared to previous years. This is most visible in the discussion surrounding freedom of speech versus causing harm to others.

It is also noteworthy that the substantial inequalities based on educational track, which we already observed at the beginning of secondary school, persist. Similar to previous years, VWO students attach much greater importance to living in a democracy than VMBO students, are more likely to report an intention to vote, and have more political knowledge. Although the differences between educational tracks remain substantial, it is important to keep in mind that these attitudes are increasing across all tracks.

The full report is available here.

For urgent matters, please contact Tom van der Meer


Although it has been quiet for a while, we have certainly not been idle! This week marks the start of the fifth round of data collection at schools. This means that our team will once again visit secondary schools throughout the country to gather students' opinions on democracy and society. The first schools are already scheduled for December, and we will make significant progress starting early next year. The logistics of data collection are being well managed this year by Carmen van Alebeek and Boris van den Berg.

We are also pleased to welcome a few new researchers to our team this year: Sara Geven and Jaap van Slageren. If you want to learn more about who they are and what they do, visit the team page and click on their profile pictures with hyperlinks. If you are still not satisfied and have pressing questions about who we are, what we do, or more, feel free to email us!

We are currently busy finalising the Year 3 report, in which we discuss the results of the third-year students in the 2020-2021 school year. The report will be released soon. This school year, schools throughout the Netherlands faced closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the parliamentary elections took place. This has been of great importance for the data collection of the DAPDV project. Additionally, we have once again examined adolescents' support for democratic values compared to the first and second school years. Soon, more information about this can be read in the Year 3 report, which will be published on this site!

New Report: Democratic Values in Secondary Education (2019/2020)

The 2021 Dutch Parliamentary Elections are on the horizon. What do secondary school students think about politics and democracy? Who do they believe should make decisions? And are they willing to vote when they turn 18?

In the second report of the DAPDV project, we follow the development of adolescents' values and knowledge in the first and second year of secondary education.

The results show that young people are not particularly interested in politics and democracy. Half of the second-year students indicate that it is important to live in a democracy, about 15 percent say it is not important, and approximately 35 percent have no pronounced opinion. Second-year students also show less interest in politics and society compared to their first year and say they discuss these topics less with their parents, friends, and teachers.

This is not surprising at the age of 13. However, the significant differences between VWO and VMBO students are remarkable: VWO students are much more likely to consider living in a democracy important, they are more likely to intend to vote, and they have more trust in officeholders (such as politicians, judges, and the police).

Most perceptions of democracy and politics remain relatively stable between the first and second year. The most notable aspect is that second-year students appear to be less considerate of minorities. We also observe a slight decline in support for solidarity with those who are less fortunate.

The full report is available here.

Update: Daan Tillie and Boris van den Berg join our team

Recently, two new members have joined our DAPDV research team. First of all, we warmly welcome Daan Tillie. Daan holds a Master's degree in Sociology and Public Administration and has worked as a project leader at the teacher training programs of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Next to her DAPDV duties, she is currently active as a Junior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Social Sciences. The second new member is Boris van den Berg. Boris has completed the Research Master's Social Sciences and, like Daan, works as a Junior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science and PPLE. Daan and Boris will assist us in the upcoming third round of data collection, which we will start this spring.   

Collecting data during COVID-19 times

In early March, we visited one of the last schools for the second round of the DAPDV research. There was an excited atmosphere among the students, a few seats remained noticeably empty, and in the staff room, there were lively discussions about the usefulness of closing or not closing schools. Not even two weeks later, we were in an "intelligent lockdown". Schools were closed, and we were sitting at home at the kitchen table behind our laptops.

The COVID-19 crisis has had unprecedented consequences. First and foremost, of course, for the schools and the students, but also for the way we conduct research. However, it is important that we continue to listen to adolescents and continue to monitor how they think about politics and democracy. Especially during this time when there is much discussion in society about the measures and the core values of the democratic rule of law. A period in which Mark Rutte regularly appears on television and other media, and influencers convey political messages. How do these developments influence the opinions of youngsters about politics and democracy? And does this apply to all young people? Because we have been monitoring around 2,000 students in 49 schools in the Netherlands since 2018, we can start answering these questions. That is why we are once again committed to administering questionnaires to these students this school year.

We are now facing the challenge of how to organise all of this. We are thinking hard about online data collection and will discuss the practical implementation with the schools.

Meanwhile, Ellis Aizenberg has joined our team, we have prepared the data from the second panel wave for analysis, and we are finalising the reports for the participating schools. At the end of this year, there will also be another report on the support for democratic values among young people. In this report, we will pay special attention to the development of the students' values and attitudes over time.

This means that there is still something to look forward to. We remain hopeful and hope for better times when we can greet ‘our’ students in the classroom again!

Publication of New Report: Democratic Values in Secondary Education (2018/2019)

What do students in the first year of secondary education think about democracy and politics? How do they view 'good' citizenship? And do they intend to vote when they are older?

These questions are extensively addressed in our first report of the DAPDV research. The report on the support for democratic values among first-year secondary school students was published on Friday 25th October 2019.

We kick off this publication with an article in the NRC.

The full publication is available here.

Free lecture series on education, citizenship & democracy (Zwolle)

"Young people are not interested in politics." "Today's youngsters no longer vote." We hear such statements regularly. But is that really the case? What is the current state of support for democratic values among young people? And what role does education play in this?

After a successful and well-attended lecture series at ProDemos in The Hague last year (read the reports here), we now want to offer this opportunity to education professionals in the eastern part of the country. Therefore, ProDemos, the University of Amsterdam, and the Province of Overijssel are collaborating to organise a lecture series of three sessions in September and October 2019 in Zwolle.

In this lecture series, speakers from academia, policy, practice, and politics combine their insights. Renowned academics from the fields of political science, sociology, and educational science share their knowledge of the current state of affairs and engage in discussions with people from the field of (educational) practice, politics, and the public.

The lectures

  • 23 September: prof. dr. Herman van de Werfhorst 
    Citizen or merchant?
    The education system is expected to fulfill various societal expectations: preparing for the labor market, socialising independent citizens, and promoting social mobility. But is the Dutch education system well-equipped enough to promote these outcomes?
  • 30 September: prof. dr. Anne Bert Dijkstra
    The state of citizenship education
    How is Dutch citizenship education currently doing? What do studies show? What are effective ways to promote citizenship education?
  • 7 October: prof. dr. Tom van der Meer
    Democratic values under pressure?
    In the final lecture, Tom van der Meer critically examines whether democratic values are under pressure. What evidence is available for this thesis? And what exactly are the core values necessary for democracy?

Practical information