Why do people move to the right, politically, as they get older?

17 October

There is most certainly a general drift towards being conservative with a small "c" as a person gets older, hence valuing tradition, continuity and stability more than change, revolution and innovation. I would point to a number of possible drivers of this. Firstly, as a person ages, they become more personally invested in the status quo, and hence with preserving it. Secondly, there is less life left with increasing age, so the future becomes less interesting than the past, and with more attention focused on the past there is more value attached to preserving it. The ‘overthrow the evil system’ narrative that is endemic to hard left ideology is thus typically far less attractive to older people who are quite attached to how things are, and enjoy the stability and safety that it brings them. Finally, cognitive flexibility decreases with age, and with that I believe that there is an increasing preference for political views and values that are clear-cut, proven and lacking ambiguity. Conservatism and conservative values bring just that.

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