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Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?

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  • Meier, Stephan

    (Columbia University)

  • Stutzer, Alois

    (University of Basel)

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

  • Meier, Stephan & Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?," IZA Discussion Papers 1045, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1045
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    More about this item

    Keywords

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