Our Research posts are about the latest academic research being done in the School of Economics. This week:
The characteristics of volunteers in South Africa
Volunteers are people who spend their time for the benefit of others. Their work is quite important in a time when social safety nets are weak and there are ever increasing demands on welfare organisations. It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million South Africans participate in volunteer activities. This amounts to millions of hours and billions of Rands of value had the activities been compensated. In a recent ERSA working paper Dr Ferdinand Niyimbanira and Prof Waldo Krugell asked, who are these good Samaritans? What are the characteristics of these volunteers and how are these related to the number of hours that they spend as volunteers? Are they looking for psychological reward, or business contacts and skills?
The paper uses data from the South African Volunteer Activities Survey and examines the links between individuals’ resources and volunteerism.
A quick description of the data already shows an interesting fact: Blacks volunteer on average almost double the number of hours that the other population groups do, but the analysis shows that this cannot be explained by individual ‘assets’ such as gender, level of education, work status or income.
A regression model of the predictors of the number of hours that people volunteer shows two predictors that are statistically significant. First, compared to the Black and Coloured population groups, being White is negatively and significantly associated with hours volunteered. In fact, Whites volunteer 8.5 per cent fewer hours compared to the Black and Coloured population groups. Second, when “others” received the benefit of the volunteer work, compared to household members, family or friends, there is a positive and significant association with hours volunteered – 9.4 per cent more hours are volunteered. More…