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Title: A comparative study of volunteering and giving
Author: Bennett, Matthew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The main research question in this thesis explores why some people volunteer and give money compared to those that do not. The thesis builds on existing research that explains volunteering and giving, but is primarily concerned with showing how the social environment – or the context – in which people live can explain individual decisions to volunteer and give. This thesis answers three main research questions with this central theme in mind. First, how do the background characteristics of people explain whether they volunteer or give? Second, net of background characteristics of people, how does the social environment (context) that people live in explain volunteering and giving? Third, how do background characteristics of people and the social environment in which they live interact to explain volunteering and giving? Each of the four empirical chapters focuses on research questions that have received limited attention in the literature, while also utilizing relatively unique data, in relatively unique contexts. The main results of this study are as follows. Comparatively, the shared profile of a volunteer and charitable giver is someone who is middle aged, more educated, married, richer, healthier, and a religious service attendee. Contextual country characteristics also displayed an independent effect of these individual-level characteristics: religious diversity and belonging to a religious minority group was associated with a greater likelihood of volunteering, but are not associated with giving. Income inequality is associated with a decreased likelihood of volunteering and giving for respondents in developed countries, whereas the opposite is true for respondents in developing countries, supporting Wilkinson’s relative income hypothesis. A curvilinear relationship exists between national devoutness and volunteering, whereas a strong positive correlation exists between national devoutness and giving. Females are more likely to volunteer and give in societies that exhibit more gender equality; and the lower educated are more likely to volunteer in more educated societies, but that they are not more likely to give in these societies. There is no support for the idea that income disparities in volunteering and giving are exacerbated in more socially unequal societies. In England, there was no support for the idea that a stable residential area promotes volunteering and giving among adults, while neighbourhood deprivation and ethnic diversity were strong negative predictors of both behaviours. Among the youth demographic in England, religious diversity of schools is not associated with any form of civic engagement. Ethnic diversity is positively related to school extra curricular activities, but negatively with youth club participation. Youths attending private schools were more likely to take part in school-based extra-curriculars, but less likely to take part in out of school clubs and groups.
Supervisor: De Graaf, Nan Dirk Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social Sciences ; Sociology ; Statistics (social sciences) ; Civil society ; Social psychology ; volunteering ; charitable giving ; pro-social behaviour ; social cohesion ; social capital ; social context ; quantitative methods ; multilevel modelling