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Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?

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  • Stephan Meier
  • Alois Stutzer

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

  • Stephan Meier & Alois Stutzer, "undated". "Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?," IEW - Working Papers 180, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:180
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    More about this item

    Keywords

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