Politics of Small Economic Incentives of Volunteers in Old Age: Using a Mixed Methods Approach

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 12:00
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Daisuke WATANABE, Seikei University, Japan
Backgrounds and aims:The purpose of this study was to examine whether small economic incentives can encourage volunteering in old age. Yokohama city in Japan established incentive program for the elderly to join volunteer in welfare facilities from 2010. The program is a part of preventive care policies and in order to reduction in social security budget. The program allows elderly residents to accumulate “volunteer points” which can be exchange for money by conducting volunteer activities at a nursing care facility or other locations. The program is based on the premise that economic incentives encourage elderly volunteers. However, nobody have evidence about the relation between small incentive and volunteering.

Materials and methods:For triangulation purposes, a mixed methods approach includes a collection of quantitative data using the questionnaire survey of 3,685 respondents and a semi-structured interviewing date of 21 elderly volunteers. Comparing a result of multinomial logistic regression to a semi-structured interview data, I show the elderly volunteers’ minds and the meaning of economic small incentives for volunteering.

Results and implications: Small economic incentives have a statistically significant effect to participate as nursing care support volunteer. Particularly, male people with low income tend to be volunteer who began after the program start. However economic incentives of the program are a little (maximum about 75 USD per year). Analyzed interview data, the incentives do not function economically but function as a visible symbol of their activities. Through accumulating points, they can feel that their activities are meaningful. Therefore, functions of the points are not economically but the arts of volunteers’ minds. That is, the small incentive is a leverage of social participation. Regarding policy implications, officials do not only emphasis economical aspects but pay attention to multi-dimensional aspects of volunteers’ translation of points.