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Volunteering and depression: the role of psychological and social resources in different age groups

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  • Musick, Marc A.
  • Wilson, John

Abstract

There are a number of reasons why volunteering might yield mental health benefits, especially to older people. Volunteer work improves access to social and psychological resources, which are known to counter negative moods such as depression and anxiety. Analysis of three waves of data from the Americans' Changing Lives data set (1986, 1989, 1994) reveals that volunteering does lower depression levels for those over 65, while prolonged exposure to volunteering benefits both populations. Some of the effect of volunteering on depression among the elderly is attributable to the social integration it encourages, but the mediating effect of psychological resources is very small. Volunteering for religious causes is more beneficial for mental health than volunteering for secular causes but, again, the effect is confined to the elderly.

Suggested Citation

  • Musick, Marc A. & Wilson, John, 2003. "Volunteering and depression: the role of psychological and social resources in different age groups," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 259-269, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:2:p:259-269
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    Cited by:

    1. Yörük, Barış K., 2014. "Does giving to charity lead to better health? Evidence from tax subsidies for charitable giving," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 71-83.
    2. Damiano Fiorillo & Nunzia Nappo, 2017. "Formal volunteering and self-perceived health. Causal evidence from the UK-SILC," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 75(2), pages 112-138, April.
    3. Bechetti, Leonardo & Conzo, Pierluigi & Di Febbraro, Mirko, 2015. "Voluntary Work, Health and Subjective Wellbeing: a Resource for Active Ageing," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201511, University of Turin.
    4. Lindsey McDougle & Femida Handy & Sara Konrath & Marlene Walk, 2014. "Health Outcomes and Volunteering: The Moderating Role of Religiosity," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 117(2), pages 337-351, June.
    5. Lamar Pierce & Jason Snyder, 2015. "Unethical Demand and Employee Turnover," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 131(4), pages 853-869, November.
    6. Fiorillo, Damiano & Nappo, Nunzia, 2014. "Volunteering and perceived health. A European cross-countries investigation," MPRA Paper 72313, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2016.
    7. Thomas Akintayo & Niina Häkälä & Katja Ropponen & Elsa Paronen & Sari Rissanen, 2016. "Predictive Factors for Voluntary and/or Paid Work among Adults in their Sixties," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 1387-1404, September.
    8. Fiorillo, Damiano & Nappo, Nunzia, 2014. "Formal and informal volunteering and health across European countries," MPRA Paper 60210, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Binder, Martin & Freytag, Andreas, 2013. "Volunteering, subjective well-being and public policy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 97-119.
    10. Gimenez-Nadal, J. Ignacio & Molina, José Alberto, 2015. "Voluntary Activities and Daily Happiness in the US," IZA Discussion Papers 8764, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Kuan-Yu Chen, 2014. "The Relationship Between Serious Leisure Characteristics and Subjective Well-Being of Older Adult Volunteers: The Moderating Effect of Spousal Support," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(1), pages 197-210, October.
    12. Aoki, Yu, 2014. "Donating Time to Charity: Not Working for Nothing," IZA Discussion Papers 7990, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Fothergill, Kate E. & Ensminger, Margaret E. & Robertson, Judy & Green, Kerry M. & Thorpe, Roland J. & Juon, Hee-Soon, 2011. "Effects of social integration on health: A prospective study of community engagement among African American women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 291-298, January.
    14. Grant, Adam M. & Sonnentag, Sabine, 2010. "Doing good buffers against feeling bad: Prosocial impact compensates for negative task and self-evaluations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 111(1), pages 13-22, January.
    15. Sieger, Philipp & Gruber, Marc & Fauchart, Emmanuelle & Zellweger, Thomas, 2016. "Measuring the social identity of entrepreneurs: Scale development and international validation," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 542-572.
    16. Davis, Alexander L. & Krishnamurti, Tamar, 2013. "The problems and solutions of predicting participation in energy efficiency programs," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 277-287.
    17. Borgonovi, Francesca, 2008. "Doing well by doing good. The relationship between formal volunteering and self-reported health and happiness," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2321-2334, June.
    18. Kim, Eric S. & Konrath, Sara H., 2016. "Volunteering is prospectively associated with health care use among older adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 122-129.
    19. Carolyn Schwartz & Penelope Keyl & John Marcum & Rita Bode, 2009. "Helping Others Shows Differential Benefits on Health and Well-being for Male and Female Teens," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 431-448, August.
    20. Myriam Mongrain & Jacqueline Chin & Leah Shapira, 2011. "Practicing Compassion Increases Happiness and Self-Esteem," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 12(6), pages 963-981, December.
    21. Anke Plagnol & Felicia Huppert, 2010. "Happy to Help? Exploring the Factors Associated with Variations in Rates of Volunteering Across Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 97(2), pages 157-176, June.
    22. Jia-Jia Syu & Min-Ning Yu & Po-Lin Chen & Pei-Chun Chung, 2013. "The effects of marriage on volunteering and mental health: moderated mediation analysis," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 47(5), pages 2447-2457, August.
    23. Hong, S.I. & Morrow-Howell, Nancy, 2010. "Health outcomes of Experience Corps®: A high-commitment volunteer program," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 414-420, July.

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