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Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?

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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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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 180.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:180

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

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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," NBER Working Papers 5435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bruce D. Meyer, 1994. "Natural and Quasi- Experiments in Economics," NBER Technical Working Papers 0170, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2003. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," CREMA Working Paper Series 2003-07, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  4. Phelps, Charlotte D., 2001. "A clue to the paradox of happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 293-300, July.
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  7. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
  8. repec:att:wimass:9406 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Benjamin E. Hermalin & Alice M. Isen, 2000. "The Effect of Affect on Economic and Strategic Decision Making," Method and Hist of Econ Thought 9912001, EconWPA.
  11. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Warm-Glow versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Framing on Cooperation in Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-21, February.
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  13. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  14. Menchik, Paul L. & Weisbrod, Burton A., 1987. "Volunteer labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-183, March.
  15. Konow, James & Earley, Joseph, 2008. "The Hedonistic Paradox: Is homo economicus happier," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 1-33, February.
  16. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  17. Schram, Vicki R & Dunsing, Marilyn M, 1981. " Influences on Married Women's Volunteer Work Participation," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 372-79, March.
  18. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2001. "Theories of Fairness and Reciprocity," Discussion Papers in Economics 14, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  1. Affective Forecasting and Optimal Environmental Behaviour
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-12-30 15:11:00
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