For whatever reason, my articles recently keep coming back to charitable giving and volunteering. Here I am again with another post on the BLS’s recent release of volunteering statistics. Reader Patrick of Cash Money Life wondered if the reason that married parents volunteered in such high numbers was because many have children who open up volunteer activities. On the surface, this is a very good theory; younger kids play baseball, soccer and other sports, become Boy and Girl Scouts, and generally do things which occasionally ask people to volunteer to help (like go to school!). Let’s see if we can tease out the effect this has on overall volunteering rates!
Relevant Charts and Ramblings/Analysis
First up, the chart that I neglected in my previous post. Remember, 26.8% of people in the county (23.3% of males and 30.1% of females) volunteered between September 2008 and September 2009. Additional data (2007-2008) comes from a previous BLS release. Here you can see volunteers by marital status, and “children status”:
First, let’s define these categories. ‘Other’ is a marital status, meaning married or once married, but now widowed, separated, divorced, etc. The two children definitions mean living with one’s own children.
Yes, Patrick appears to be onto something; there is a 10.3% gap in volunteer rates between those with their own children under 18 and those without. However, we can’t be absolutely certain! It may be that people who have children are also more likely to volunteer in the first place. However, I’m already starting to think that this has a large effect on volunteering! Let’s look at Table 4, which lists volunteers by type of organization volunteered for… and luckily for us, breaks down people into “children status”. This chart breaks down what type of organization a person’s volunteers the greatest number of hours.
For men, the breakdown for educational or youth service is 16.9% vs. 38.9% for not having their own children under 18 present vs. having their children present. Similarly, for women the percentage breakdown is 16.0% vs. 47.4%. What categories of organizations suffer from this effect? Social and community service organizations and “civic, political, professional, international” organizations take the biggest hit in the measure. Note that religious volunteering doesn’t take too large a hit across the various demographics:
I don’t have any formal numbers or correlations for you (just 451 words and three charts!), but on gut feeling you can see that Patrick is onto something: parents with children (which we must assume there are more children in married couples than the other categories) volunteer more to youth based activities. So, parents, keep volunteering for cookie bakes and boy scouts: those without children aren’t going to pick up your slack in youth charity!