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Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Stephan Meier
  • Alois Stutzer

Abstract

Volunteering constitutes one of the most important pro-social activities. Following Adam Smith, helping others is the way to higher individual well-being. This view contrasts with the selfish utility maximizer who avoids costs from helping others. The two rival views are studied empirically. We find robust evidence that volunteers are more satisfied with their life than non-volunteers. Causality is addressed taking advantage of a natural experiment: the collapse of East Germany and its infrastructure of volunteering. People who accidentally lost their opportunities for volunteering are compared to people who experienced no change in their volunteer status.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2004-12.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2004-12

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Related research

Keywords: happiness; pro-social behavior; subjective well-being; volunteering;

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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Consumption deskilling & utility
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-03-01 14:36:46
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Cited by:
  1. Stephan Meier, 2005. "Do subsidies increase charitable giving in the long run? Matching donations in a field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00308, The Field Experiments Website.

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