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Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor

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  • Richard B. Freeman

Abstract

Volunteer activity is work performed without monetary recompense. This paper shows that volunteering is a sizeable economic activity in the U.S.; 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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  • Richard B. Freeman, 1996. "Working for Nothing: The Supply of Volunteer Labor," NBER Working Papers 5435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5435
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