Effects of Economic and Cultural Contexts on Formal Volunteering: Evidence from 33 European Countries, 1981-2008

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 30 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Elena DAMIAN, University of Cologne, Germany
Past research on the sources underlying volunteering indicates that besides peoples’ individual characteristics such as economic resources or motivations, the social contexts people live in exerts a significant effect on engaging in voluntary activities. The type of religious denomination, religiosity, or economic situation of the country are some of the main contextual factors found to explain differences in volunteering across. However, prior studies focused only on cross-sectional data and, therefore, did not take into consideration how dynamic predictors (e.g. economic development) affect volunteering across time. This study seeks to improve on previous work by considering not just differences between countries in a certain year but also variation within countries across time. Using data from the four waves of European Values Study (1981-2008), merged with country level information from World Bank, it simultaneously tests the longitudinal and cross-sectional effects of economic and cultural country characteristics on formal volunteering. The findings show that the cultural characteristics (religiosity and the type of religious denomination that prevails in the society) and income inequality have a negative between and within country effect, while the economic situation (GDP per capita) has a positive effect on formal volunteering across time.