Volunteer Work, Informal Help, and Care among the 50+ in Europe: Further Evidence for 'Linked' Productive Activities at Older Ages
Objectives - Taking a cross-national comparative perspective, we investigate linkages between volunteer work, informal helping, and caring among Europeans aged 50 or older: Is the relationship between these activities characterized by complementarity or by substitution? Is there evidence for the existence of (unobserved) personality traits that foster engagement independent of a specific activity? Methods - Based on 27,305 personal interviews from the 2004 Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we estimate univariate and multivariate probit models, which allow us to analyze the interrelationship between different productive activities and the derterminants of individuals' engagement therein. Results - There is substantial variation in the participation in volunteering, helping, and caring between countries and regions. Independent of the general level of activity in a country, we find evidence for a complementary and interdependent relationship between all three activities. Discussion - Our findings not only suggest an important role of societal opportunity structures in elders' productive engagement, but they also support recent notions of the existence of a general motivation for engagement in productive activities, independent of a specific domain of activity. Thus, the study of motivations should be an important aspect of future research on productive aging.
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