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Community contributions in later life

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Dan Jones presents the evidence on volunteering and contributing to communities in later life, including the benefits and most active groups.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Community contributions in later life

  1. 1. Dan Jones, Director of Innovation & Change Community Contributions in Later Life – What do we know?
  2. 2. 2 Making a valued contribution to my community - Unpaid altruistic activities beyond the immediate family - Formal volunteering or civic contributions - Less formal/self-organised voluntary activity - Everyday acts of neighbourliness and helping out - Our interest is how these activities contribute to a better later life - Significant body of evidence on formal volunteering in older adults – both benefits and drivers - Much less evidence on informal contributions
  3. 3. 3 Making a contribution – benefits -Strong evidence that making a contribution (formal or informal) increases quantity and quality of social connections -Consistent evidence that good quality formal volunteering leads to wellbeing and life satisfaction benefits for older adults -These are real but limited benefits – “we should not expect miracles from participation” -Consistent association between volunteering and health, but evidence does not support a causal connection -Some evidence that volunteering can help people over 50 back into employment, but relationship is not straightforward 1. Nazroo, J. and Matthews, K. (2012) The impact of volunteering on well-being in later life, London: WRVS 2. De Wit, A., Bekkers, R., Karamat Ali, D., and Verkaik, D. (2015) Welfare impacts of participation: report for Impact of Third Sector as Social Innovation project, Brussels: European Commission, DG Research 2
  4. 4. 4 The benefits of contributing – wellbeing Social connections Structure and purpose Feedback and validation Wellbeing Life Satisfaction Quality of Life Mental Health Reciprocity Access to mutual / peer support Self Management
  5. 5. 5 Making a contribution – who benefits? Structure and purpose Social connections Wellbeing People with lower levels of income or education People with mild / moderate mental health problems People with incipient / low level unmet household care needs Reciprocity and mutual support See e.g. Principi, A., Schippers, J., Naegele, G., Di Rosa, M. and Lamura, G. (2016) Understanding the link between older volunteers’ resources and motivation to volunteer, Educational Gerontology, 42 (2)
  6. 6. 6 Making a contribution – who contributes? 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 16-49 50-64 65-74 75+ Formal volunteering Informal volunteering Community Life Survey - Age is not a significant determinant of making a contribution Proportion of people making frequent contributions by age, 2014-15
  7. 7. 7 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% Poor Fair Good Very good Excellent Making a contribution – who contributes? Nazroo, J. and Matthews, K. (2012) The impact of volunteering on well-being in later life, London: WRVS - Health, socioeconomic status and ethnicity are much more strongly correlated to volunteering than age Proportion of people aged 50+ involved in formal volunteering by health status, 2006- 10
  8. 8. 8 Making a contribution – who contributes? - But some evidence that informal help is not correlated with socioeconomic status (e.g. SHARE) Proportion of people aged 50+ involved in formal volunteering by wealth, 2006-10 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% Poorest Second quintile Third quintile Fourth quintile Richest
  9. 9. 9 Work and volunteering in later life -Retirement – cohort data doesn’t support the idea that people are more likely to take up volunteering after retirement (except for higher status workers) -Work – US data suggests that staying in work or maintaining work-related social networks is associated with higher levels of volunteering 1. Lancee, B. and Radl, J. (2014) Volunteering over the life course, Social Forces, 93 (2) 2. Lengfeld, H. and Ordemann (2016) The long shadow of occupation: volunteering in retirement, Rationality and Society, 28 (1) 3. Tang, F. (2015) Retirement Patterns and Their Relationship to Volunteering, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 1, 2
  10. 10. 10 Why do people volunteer? Support Systems • Advertising / recruitment • Matching • Training & support • Flexibility & fit • Feedback & value • Prior experience or association • Rich social networks • Neighbourhood satisfaction • Religious participation • Socioeconomic status / income • Health status • Education Motivation Capability Opportunities Social and community norms Institutional, policy and legal framework Resources and infrastructure – financial and physical
  11. 11. 11 Barriers to volunteering in later life – individual -Absence of motivating factors – “I’ve never thought about it” “I don’t want to” -Limited capability – “I can’t”
  12. 12. 12 Barriers to volunteering in later life – individual -Ageism and discrimination – “it’s not for me” -Social and community norms and networks – “I don’t know anyone who does it” -Lack of suitable opportunities and support – lack of flexibility or things that people want to do
  13. 13. 13 Volunteering in later life – myths The evidence suggests that some commonly cited factors are not straightforwardly correlated to likelihood of participation: -Time – people make time for the things they want to do -Caring – including care
  14. 14. 14 Making a contribution – what don’t we know? -Informal contributions -New forms of contribution (e.g. micro-volunteering, impact volunteering, digital, timebanking, peer-led, social enterprises) -Under-represented groups (e.g. black and minority ethnic groups) -“Under-benefiting” groups (e.g. people with limited social capital, people with life-limiting conditions)
  15. 15. Centre for Ageing Better Angel Building, Level 3 407 St John Street, London, EC1V 4AD 020 3829 0113 www.ageing-better.org.uk Registered Company Number: 8838490 & Charity Registration Number: 1160741

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