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Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself?

34 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2004  

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Columbia Business School - Management

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2004

Abstract

Volunteering constitutes one of the most important pro-social activities. Following Adam Smith, helping others is the way to higher individual well-being. This view contrasts with the selfish utility maximizer who avoids costs from helping others. The two rival views are studied empirically. We find robust evidence that volunteers are more satisfied with their life than non-volunteers. Causality is addressed taking advantage of a natural experiment: the collapse of East Germany and its infrastructure of volunteering. People who accidentally lost their opportunities for volunteering are compared to people who experienced no change in their volunteer status.

Keywords: happiness, pro-social behavior, subjective well-being, volunteering

JEL Classification: D64, I31, J22, Z13

Suggested Citation

Meier, Stephan and Stutzer, Alois, Is Volunteering Rewarding in Itself? (March 2004). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1045; Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 180. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=505042

Stephan Meier (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
4002 Basel
Switzerland
0041 61 267 3361 (Phone)
0041 61 267 3340 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.wwz.unibas.ch/stutzer/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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