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THE VALUE OF VOLUNTEER LABOR AND THE FACTORS INFLUENCING PARTICIPATION: EVIDENCE FOR THE UNITED STATES FROM 2002 THROUGH 2005

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According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of people who volunteered rose from 59.8 million in 2002 to 65.4 million in 2005. Those volunteering benefit from their activity in various ways; however, these benefits are non-pecuniary and are generally not recognized in the national economic accounts used to measure gross domestic product (GDP). This paper uses data from the 2002–05 Current Population Survey Volunteer Supplements to assign a dollar value to volunteering. Different methodologies yield annual estimates from $116 to $153 billion (in 2005 dollars) over the four years (between 0.9 and 1.3 percent of 2005 GDP). Additionally, characteristics of individuals most likely to volunteer are identified. The volunteer rate varies by demographic characteristics in addition to geographic location, labor force participation, and business sector. Furthermore, the data suggest that volunteering is a “normal good” because participation increases with income even after controlling for observables.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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