Who cares? Toward an integrated theory of volunteer work


Journal Article

We construct an integrated theory of formal and informal volunteer work based on the premises that volunteer work is (1) productive work that requires human capital, (2) collective behavior that requires social capital, and (3) ethically guided work that requires cultural capital. Using education, income, and functional health to measure human capital, number of children in the household and informal social interaction to measure social capital, and religiosity to measure cultural capital, we estimate a model in which formal volunteering and informal helping are reciprocally related but connected in different ways to different forms of capital. Using two-wave data from the Americans' Changing Lives panel study, we find that formal volunteering is positively related to human capital, number of children in the household, informal social interaction, and religiosity. Informal helping, such as helping a neighbor, is primarily determined by gender, age, and health. Estimation of reciprocal effects reveals that formal volunteering has a positive effect on helping, but helping does not affect formal volunteering.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wilson, J; Musick, M

Published Date

  • January 1, 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 62 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 694 - 713

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-1224

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2307/2657355

Citation Source

  • Scopus