The Impact of Volunteering and Its Characteristics on Well-being After State Pension Age: Longitudinal Evidence From the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

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OBJECTIVES: Volunteering after retirement age is beneficial to well-being. This study furthers previous research by presenting a longitudinal analysis of the well-being of volunteers, compared to non-volunteers, based on characteristics of the voluntary work in which they participate. METHOD: Participants were 3,740 people aged State Pension Age and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Longitudinal regression models were used to determine whether frequent volunteers saw beneficial changes in well-being (depression, satisfaction with life, CASP-19, and social isolation) compared to non-volunteers. The initial model used a hierarchical approach so that we could also examine the impact of social and health factors. Models were then run to determine whether well-being in relation to volunteering was influenced by its continuity, the number of activities engaged in, whether the volunteering was formal or informal in nature, and whether or not the respondent reported feeling appreciated for their efforts. RESULTS: Although sociodemographic and health circumstances reduce the magnitude of the effects of volunteering on well-being, the effect of volunteering remained significant in almost all analyses. The beneficial effect of volunteering appeared to stop among respondents who stopped volunteering between waves. The best outcomes were observed among those participating in higher numbers of activities, regardless of whether or not these were classed as formal or informal, and who felt appreciated for their work. DISCUSSION: Certain aspects of volunteering might be especially beneficial to the well-being of older people. That these effects stop when volunteering stops suggest a causal element to this relationship.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-641
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology. Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021