Cyclical Developments in Volunteer Labor - Discourses and Empirical Findings (Konjunkturen des Ehrenamts - Diskurse und Empirie)
23 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2008
Date Written: May 2007
Cyclical Developments in Volunteer Labor - Discourses and Empirical Findings. The present article sketches the main developments in the discourse on volunteer labor over approximately the last three decades while clarifying the problem of how to empirically capture changes in volunteer labor over time. Following a conceptual discussion, we analyze the prevalence of volunteer labor and trends in its development based on longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). The rate of volunteer participation in the former West German states over a 20-year period showed fluctuations above all in the area of infrequent volunteer work, but otherwise remained stable in the aggregate. Over the period from 1985 to 2005, between seven and nine percent of the population engaged in volunteer work on a weekly basis, another six to eight percent on a monthly basis. Only those activities that took place less frequently than once per month appear to have increased, fluctuating between eight and 15 percent with peaks in 1996 and 2005. In total over the last 20 years, we identify no significant increase in regular volunteer work despite major fluctuations in sporadic volunteer work. The paper closes with a discussion of improved means of operationalizing volunteer work in representative population surveys.
JEL Classification: A14, C81, J22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation