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The Effects of Volunteering for Non-profit Organizations on Social Capital Formation: Evidence from a Statewide Survey

  • Jane Kolodinsky


  • Garret Kimberly


  • Jonathan Isham


We use the household production framework to theoretically connect sociability and purposive incentives for volunteering and two forms of social capital: social connections and civic capacity. Then, using a unique statewide data set, we estimate the determinants of (a) the probability of receiving social capital benefits and (b) the level of such benefits. We show that: religious and social service organizations have a large impact on social capital formation; the probability of being socially and civically engaged increases with volunteering; and two-adult families are more likely to feel socially and civically engaged. These results are consistent with recent aggregate evidence on the decline of social capital in the United States: social capital formation declines with less religious and altruistic orientation at the community level, and as families move away from a two-adult family structure. By contrast, through volunteering, one can increase the likelihood of being socially and civically engaged.

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Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 0305.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0305
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  1. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
  2. Knack, Stephen, 2000. "Social capital and the quality of Government : evidence from the U.S. States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2504, The World Bank.
  3. Gilbert Ghez & Gary S. Becker, 1975. "The Allocation of Time and Goods over the Life Cycle," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ghez75-1, December.
  4. Lin, Tsai-Fen & Schmidt, Peter, 1984. "A Test of the Tobit Specification against an Alternative Suggested by Cragg," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 174-77, February.
  5. Kathleen Day & Rose Annue Devlin, 1998. "The Payoff to Work without Pay: Volunteer Work as an Investment in Human Capital," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(5), pages 1179-1191, November.
  6. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 0042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. O. Hawrylyshyn, 1978. "The economic nature and value of volunteer activity in Canada," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 5(1), pages 1-71, March.
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