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Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor

  • Freeman, Richard Barry

Volunteer activity is work performed without monetary recompense. This article shows that volunteering is a sizeable economic activity in the United States, that volunteers have high skills and opportunity costs of time, that standard labor supply explanations of volunteering account for only a minor part of volunteer behavior, and that many volunteer only when requested to do so. This suggests that volunteering is a "conscience good or activity"-something that people feel morally obligated to do when asked, but which they would just as soon let someone else do.

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File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/4632239/Freeman_WorkingNothing.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4632239.

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Date of creation: 1997
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Labor Economics
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:4632239
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Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/

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  1. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  2. Menchik, Paul L. & Weisbrod, Burton A., 1987. "Volunteer labor supply," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-183, March.
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