Skip to main content
×
Home

The effect of time volunteering and charitable donations in later life on psychological wellbeing

  • NAMKEE G. CHOI (a1) and JINSEOK KIM (a2)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

Although accumulated research findings point to both short- and long-term salutary effects of time volunteering on older adults' physical and mental health, little research has been done on the effect of older adults' making charitable donations on their wellbeing. Guided by activity theory and the theory of volunteering and using data from the first and second waves of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS, 1995–1996 and MIDUS II, 2004–2006), this study examined the question of whether time volunteering and charitable donations nine years earlier had a positive direct effect on psychological wellbeing among individuals age 55 and above. Controlling for time 1 (T1) psychological wellbeing and T1 human, cultural, and social capital resources, a moderate amount (up to ten hours monthly) of T1 time volunteering and any amount of T1 charitable donations had a direct positive effect on time 2 (T2; nine years later) psychological wellbeing. The findings also show a greater effect on psychological wellbeing of any amount of charitable donations than of any amount of time volunteering, although the extent of the effect of both time volunteering and charitable donations was small. With regard to human, cultural, and social capital resources, T1 self-rated health and generative quality were significant predictors of T2 psychological wellbeing, but T1 social capital had no significant effect on T2 psychological wellbeing.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Namkee G. Choi, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, D3500, Austin, TX 78712-0358, USA. E-mail: nchoi@mail.utexas.edu
References
Hide All
Ackerman S., Zuroff D. C. and Moskowitz D. S. 2000. Generativity in midlife and young adults: links to agency, communion, and subjective well-being. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 50, 1, 1741.
Adloff F. 2006. Beyond interests and norms: toward a theory of gift giving and reciprocity in modern societies. Constellations: International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, 13, 3, 407–27.
Adloff F. 2009. What encourages charitable giving and philanthropy? Ageing & Society, 29, Special issue 08, 11851205.
An J. S. and Cooney T. M. 2006. Psychological well-being in mid to late life: the role of generativity development and parent–child relationships across the lifespan. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30, 5, 410–21.
Apinunmahakul A. and Devlin R. A. 2008. Social networks and private philanthropy. Journal of Public Economics, 92, 1/2, 309–28.
Bennett R. 2000. Factors underlying the inclination to donate to particular types of charity. International Journal of Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Marketing, 8, 1, 1229.
Benyamini Y. and Idler E. L. 1999. Community studies reporting association between self-rated health and mortality: additional studies, 1995–1998. Research on Aging, 21, 3, 392401.
Bowen D. J., Andersen M. R. and Urban N. 2000. Volunteerism in a community-based sample of women aged 50 to 80 years. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 9, 1829–42.
Brim O. G., Ryff C. D. and Kessler R. C. 2004. The MIDUS National Survey: an overview. In Brim O. G., Ryff C. D. and Kessler R. C. (eds), How Healthy Are We? A National Study of Well-being at Midlife. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 134.
Brooks A. C. 2007. Income tax policy and charitable giving. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 26, 3, 599612.
Brown E. and Ferris J. M. 2007. Social capital and philanthropy: an analysis of the impact of social capital on individual giving and volunteering. Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly, 36, 1, 8599.
Bryant W. K., Jeon-Slaughter H., Kang H. and Tax A. 2003. Participation in philanthropic activities: donating money and time. Journal of Consumer Policy, 26, 1, 4373.
Center on Philanthropy 2007. American Express Charitable Gift Survey. Indiana University, Indianapolis. Available online at www.philanthropy.iupui.edu [Accessed 25 February 2010].
Chappell N. L. and Prince M. J. 1997. Reasons why Canadian seniors volunteer. Canadian Journal of Aging, 16, 2, 336–53.
Cnaan R. A., Handy F. and Wadsworth M. 1996. Defining who is a volunteer: conceptual and empirical considerations. Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly, 25, 3, 364–83.
de St. Aubin E. D. and McAdams D. P. 1995. The relations of generative concern and generative action to personality traits, satisfaction/happiness with life, and ego development. Journal of Adult Development, 2, 2, 99112.
Duncan B. 1999. Modeling charitable donations of time and money. Journal of Public Economics, 72, 2, 213–42.
Freeman R. B. 1997. Working for nothing: the supply of volunteer labor. Journal of Labor Economics, 15, 1, S140–66.
GivingUSA 2009. GivingUSA 2009: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2008. Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Indianapolis.
Glass T. A., Mendes de Leon C., Bassuk S. S. and Berkman L. F. 2006. Social engagement and depressive symptoms in later life: longitudinal findings. Journal of Aging and Health, 18, 4, 604–28.
Greenfield E. A. and Marks N. F. 2004. Formal volunteering as a protective factor for older adults' psychological well-being. Journal of Gerontology, 59B, 5, S258–64.
Grossbaum M. F. and Bates G. W. 2002. Correlates of psychological well-being at midlife: the role of generativity, agency and communion, and narrative themes. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 26, 2, 120–7.
Hao Y. 2008. Productive activities and psychological well-being among older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 63B, 2, S64S72.
Harlow R. E. and Cantor N. 1996. Still participating after all these years: a study of life task participation in later life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 6, 1235–49.
Herzog A. R., Franks M. M., Markus H. R. and Holmberg D. 1998. Activities and well-being in older age: effects of self-concept and educational attainment. Psychology and Aging, 13, 2, 179–85.
Hu L. and Bentler P. M. 1999. Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1, 155.
Hughes P. and Luksetich W. 2008. Income volatility and wealth: the effect on charitable giving. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 37, 2, 264–80.
Hur M. H. 2006. Exploring the motivation factors of charitable giving and their value structure: a case study of Seoul, Korea. Social Behavior and Personality, 34, 6, 661–80.
Hurd M. 2009. Inter-vivos giving by older people in the United States: who received financial gifts from the childless? Ageing & Society, 29, Special issue 08, 1207–25.
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) 2006 a. Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS II) 2004–2006: Sample Descriptions: MIDUS1 and MIDUS II, All Parts. ICPSR, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) 2006 b. Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS II) 2004–2006: Documentation of Weights, Part 3. ICPSR, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
James R. N. III and Sharpe D. L. 2007. The nature and causes of the U-shaped charitable giving profile. Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Quarterly, 36, 2, 218–38.
Kaplan D. 2000. Structural Equation Modeling: Foundations and Extensions. Sage, Thousand Oaks, California.
Keyes C. L. M. 1998. Social well-being. Social Psychology Quarterly, 61, 1, 121–40.
Keyes C. L. M. and Ryff C. D. 1998. Generativity in adult lives: social structural contours and quality of life consequences. In McAdams D. and de St. Aubin E. (eds), Generativity and Adult Development. American Psychological Association, Washington DC, 227–63.
Krause N., Herzog A. R. and Baker E. 1992. Providing support to others and well-being in later life. Journal of Gerontology, 47, 5, P300–11.
Lee Y.-K. and Chang C.-T. 2007. Who gives what to charity? Characteristics affecting donation behavior. Social Behavior and Personality, 35, 9, 1173–80.
Lemon B. W., Bengtson V. L. and Peterson J. A. 1972. An exploration of the activity theory of aging: activity types and life satisfaction among in-movers to a retirement community. Journal of Gerontology, 27, 4, 511–23.
Li Y. 2007. Recovering from spousal bereavement in later life: does volunteer participation play a role? Journal of Gerontology, 62B, 4, S257–66.
Li Y. and Ferraro K. F. 2005. Volunteering and depression in later life: social benefit or selection processes? Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 46, 1, 6884.
Little R. J. A. and Rubin D. B. 2002. Statistical Analysis with Missing Data. Second edition, Wiley, New York.
Litwin H. and Shiovitz-Ezra S. 2006. The association between activity and wellbeing in later life: what really matters? Ageing & Society, 26, 2, 225–42.
Longino C. F. and Karl C. S. 1982. Explicating activity theory: a formal replication. Journal of Gerontology, 37, 6, 713–22.
Lum T. Y. and Lightfoot E. 2005. The effects of volunteering on the physical and mental health of older people. Research on Aging, 27, 1, 3155.
Lunn J., Klay R. and Douglas A. 2001. Relationships among giving, church attendance, and religious belief: the case of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 40, 4, 765–75.
Maier H. and Klumb P. 2005. Social participation and survival at older ages: is the effect driven by activity content or context? European Journal of Aging, 2, 1, 31–9.
McAdams D. P. and de St. Aubin E. 1992. A theory of generativity and its assessment through self-report, behavioral acts, and narrative themes in autobiography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 6, 1003–15.
McMunn A., Nazroo J., Wahrendorf M., Breese E. and Zaninotto P. 2009. Participation in socially-productive activities, reciprocity and wellbeing in later life: baseline results in England. Ageing & Society, 29, 5, 763–82.
Menec V. H. 2003. The relation between everyday activities and successful aging: a 6-year longitudinal study. Journal of Gerontology, 58B, 2, S74–82.
Menec V. H., Chipperfield J. G. and Perry R. P. 1999. Self-perception of health: a prospective analysis of mortality, control and health. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 54B, 2, P85–93.
Mor V., Wilcox V., Rakowski W. and Hiris J. 1994. Functional transitions among the elderly: patterns, predictors, and related hospital use. American Journal of Public Health, 84, 8, 1274–80.
Morrow-Howell N., Hinterlong J., Rosario P. and Tang F. Y. 2003. Effects of volunteering on the well-being of older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 58B, 3, S137–45.
Morrow-Howell N., Hong S.-I. and Tang F. Y. 2009. Who benefits from volunteering? Variations in perceived benefits. The Gerontologist, 49, 1, 91102.
Morrow-Howell N. and Mui A. C. 1989. Elderly volunteers: reasons for initiating and terminating service. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 13, 3/4, 2134.
Musick M. A., Herzog A. R. and House J. S. 1999. Volunteering and mortality among older adults: findings from a national sample. Journal of Gerontology, 54B, 3, S173–80.
Musick M. A. and Wilson J. 2003. Volunteering and depression: the role of psychological and social resources in different age groups. Social Sciences and Medicine, 56, 2, 259–69.
Muthén B., du Toit S. H. C. and Spisic D. 1997. Robust inference using weighted least squares and quadratic estimating equations in latent variable modeling with categorical and continuous outcomes. Unpublished technical report. Available online at http://www.statmodel.com/wlscv.shtml [Accessed 22 February 2010].
Muthén L. K. and Muthén B. O. 2007. MPlus User's Guide. Fifth edition, Muthén and Muthén, Los Angeles, California.
Narushima M. 2005. ‘Payback time’: community volunteering among older adults as a transformative mechanism. Ageing and Society 25, 4, 567–84.
Okun M. A., Barr A. and Herzog A. R. 1998. Motivation to volunteer by older adults: a test of competing measurement models. Psychology and Aging, 13, 4, 608–21.
Oman D., Thoresen C. A. and McMahon K. 1999. Volunteerism and mortality among the community-dwelling elderly. Journal of Health Psychology, 4, 3, 301–16.
Ostrower F. 1995. Why the Wealthy Give: The Culture of Elite Philanthropy. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
Pitts R. E. and Skelly G. U. 1984. Economic self-interest and other motivational factors underlying charitable giving. Journal of Behavioral Economics, 13, 2, 93139.
Regnerus M. D., Smith C. and Sikkink D. 1998. Who gives to the poor? The influence of religious tradition and political location on the personal generosity of Americans toward the poor. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 3, 481–93.
Rooney P., Brown M. S. and Wu K. 2008. Donor Stability: Findings from the Center on Philanthropy Panel Study. Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Indianapolis. Available online at www.philanthropy.iupui.edu [Accessed 24 March 2010].
Rossi A. S. 2001. Caring and doing for others. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Rossi A. S. 2004. Social responsibility to family and community. In Brim O. G., Ryff C. D. and Kessler R. C. (eds), How Healthy Are We? A National Study of Well-being at Midlife. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 550–85.
Ryff C. D. 1989. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 6, 1069–81.
Ryff C. D. 1995. Psychological well-being in adult life. Current Direction in Psychological Science, 4, 4, 99104.
Ryff C. D. and Keyes C. L. 1995. The structure of psychological well-being revisited. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 4, 719–27.
Sargeant A. and Woodliffe L. 2007. Gift giving: an interdisciplinary review. International Journal of Nonprofit and Volunteer Sector Marketing, 12, 4, 275307.
Small D. A., Lowenstein G. and Slovic P. 2007. Sympathy and callousness: the impact of deliberative thought on donation to identifiable and statistical victims. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 101, 2, 143–53.
Smith J. and McSweeney A. 2007. Charitable giving: the effectiveness of a revised theory of planned behaviour model in predicting donating intentions and behaviour. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 17, 5, 363–86.
Sokolowski S. W. 1996. Show me the way to the next worthy deed: towards a micro-structural theory of volunteering and giving. Voluntas, 7, 3, 259–78.
Thoits P. A. and Hewitt L. N. 2001. Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42, 2, 115–31.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010. Volunteering in the United States 2009. Available online at www.bls.gov/news.release/volun.t02.htm [Accessed 20 March 2010].
Van Willigen M. 2000. Differential benefits of volunteering across the life course. Journal of Gerontology, 55B, 5, S308–18.
Wahrendorf M., von dem Knesebeck O. and Siegrist J. 2006. Social productivity and well-being of older people: baseline results from the SHARE study. European Journal of Ageing, 3, 2, 6773.
Wheeler J. A., Gorey K. M. and Greenblatt B. 1998. The beneficial effects of volunteering for older volunteers and the people they serve: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 47, 1, 6979.
Wilhelm M. O., Rooney P. M. and Tempel E. R. 2007. Changes in religious giving reflect changes in involvement: age and cohort effects in religious giving, secular giving, and attendance. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 46, 2, 217–32.
Wilson J. 2000. Volunteering. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 1, 215–40.
Wilson J. and Musick M. 1997. Who cares? Toward an integrated theory of volunteer work. American Sociological Review, 62, 5, 694713.
Windsor T. D., Anstey K. J. and Rodgers B. 2008. Volunteering and psychological well-being among young-old adults: how much is too much? The Gerontologist, 48, 1, 5970.
Yu C. and Muthén B. 2002. Evaluation of model fit indices for latent variable models with categorical and continuous outcomes. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, April.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 37
Total number of PDF views: 207 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 799 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.