Participation of Older Europeans in Volunteer Work
Today’s discussion about the growing ‘burden of ageing’ must not neglect the substantial productive potential of the elderly population. Using micro-data from the new ‘Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe’ (SHARE), we explore cross-national patterns of volunteering and the relationship between selected socio-demographic characteristics and participation in voluntary work among the population aged 50 and older in 10 countries. Our analysis reveals a clear spatial pattern of volunteering (with higher participation rates in Northern Europe and lower ones in the Mediterranean countries) and shows that particularly age, education, health, and involvement in other social activities matter greatly for the individual’s propensity to engage in volunteer work. Our conclusions stress the need to maintain a contextual perspective in future research on volunteering, accounting for the role of institutions and culture, and support policies and programs designed to encourage elder citizens to make use of their productive potential – for the benefit of themselves and society.
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