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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-12, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2004-12
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    1. Consumption deskilling & utility
      by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2009-03-01 20:36:46

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    Cited by:

    1. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels, 2016. "Towards a Theory of Life Satisfaction: Accounting for Stability, Change and Volatility in 25-Year Life Trajectories in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 864, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels, 2018. "A Theory of Life Satisfaction Dynamics: Stability, Change and Volatility in 25-Year Life Trajectories in Germany," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(2), pages 837-866, November.
    3. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2005. "Happiness Research: State and Prospects," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 63(2), pages 207-228.
    4. Bruno Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2014. "Economic Consequences of Mispredicting Utility," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 937-956, August.
    5. Headey, Bruce & Muffels, Ruud, 2014. "Two-way Causation in Life Satisfaction Research: Structural Equation Models with Granger-Causation," IZA Discussion Papers 8665, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Mihaela PACESILA & Sofia Elena COLESCA & Stefan Gabriel BURCEA, 2017. "The Role Of Volunteering In Modern Societies," Proceedings of the INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE, Faculty of Management, Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 11(1), pages 349-358, November.
    7. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels, 2017. "Towards a Theory of Medium Term Life Satisfaction: Similar Results for Australia, Britain and Germany," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 134(1), pages 359-384, October.
    8. Dayé, Modeste, 2014. "Volunteering at the extensive margins in Developing Countries: Extrinsic or Intrinsic Motives?," MPRA Paper 59202, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Oct 2014.
    9. Bruce Headey & Gisela Trommsdorff & Gert G. Wagner, 2022. "Alternative Recipes for Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Five World Regions," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 17(2), pages 763-794, April.
    10. Luigino Bruni, 2010. "The happiness of sociality. Economics and eudaimonia: A necessary encounter," Rationality and Society, , vol. 22(4), pages 383-406, November.
    11. 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.
    12. Bruce Headey & Ruud Muffels, 2014. "Trajectories of Life Satisfaction: Positive Feedback Loops May Explain Why Life Satisfaction Changes in Multi-year Waves Rather than Oscillating around a Set-Point," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 674, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    13. Filipa Silva & Teresa Proença & Marisa R. Ferreira, 2018. "Volunteers’ perspective on online volunteering - a qualitative approach," International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, Springer;International Association of Public and Non-Profit Marketing, vol. 15(4), pages 531-552, December.
    14. James, Harvey S., Jr. & Chymis, Athanasios G., 2004. "Are Happy People Ethical People? Evidence From North America And Europe," Working Papers 26034, University of Missouri Columbia, Department of Agricultural Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    happiness; pro-social behavior; subjective well-being; volunteering;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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