The Impact of Country Characteristics on the Level of (Late Life) Volunteering in Europe

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Martijn HOGERBRUGGE, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Ian JONES, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
Martin HYDE, Department of Sociology, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Previous studies on volunteering have predominantly focused on individual-level determinants when explaining the likelihood that an individual engages in some form of volunteer activity. Studies rarely consider how cultural, economic, and institutional factors influence volunteering. The few studies that did, have thus far only examined the influence of macro-level factors on the likelihood an individual would volunteer, ignoring the level (or frequency) of volunteering among those who do.

The present study examines how the inclusion of macro-level characteristics can help improve our understanding of individual differences in volunteering, over-and-beyond the regular individual-level explanations. Given the changing demographics of the European population, special attention will be paid to volunteering among older cohorts. Using self-reported data on volunteering from the European Social Survey, we estimated multi-level ordered logistic models to [separately and simultaneously] analyse the effects of economic development, inequality, religiosity, educational attainment, level of democracy, and corruption at the country-level on individual volunteering. Moreover, cross-level interactions with individual-level characteristics were explored.   

Results showed that older individuals are less likely to volunteer (frequently), but the extent to which varies between countries. Adding country-level characteristics to the multi-level model accounted for around 50 percent of the country-level variance. While less corrupt, more equitable and more democratic countries have higher rates of (older) volunteers, only the level of corruption was found to significantly influence the likelihood to volunteer at the individual level when the characteristics are considered simultaneously. The results concerning the level of economic development, level of religiosity, and average educational attainment in a country mirrored previous findings on the likelihood to volunteer, with higher levels of individual volunteering in countries that are more economically developed, are more religious, and in which a greater share of the population has had some form of college education.