Volunteering in Three Life Stages

  • Debbie Haski-Leventhal
  • Ed Metz
  • Edward Hogg
  • Barbara Ibrahim
  • David H. Smith
  • Lili Wang


As a person goes through the various stages of life, many things change, including the ways one volunteers and for what reasons (Musick and Wilson 2008). This chapter reviews research on formal volunteering at three different life stages: youth, elderly, and parental volunteering. In each stage, we discuss the definitions, unique characteristics, and scope of volunteering. We further analyze the existing knowledge on motivations, benefits, challenges, and impact for each age group. Furthermore, we discuss the cultural differences of volunteering in each stage in various regions around the world. We conclude with a comparison between the three groups and discuss future trends. The three life stages examined are more distinct and meaningful in industrial and postindustrial societies than in less complex societies, owing to mass education and longer lifespans. Given wide cultural differences in how individuals progress through these stages, the intersection of life-cycle stage and cultural setting are major variables in understanding patterns of volunteering.

Generally, the study of volunteering in specific age groups or categories is not well developed.


Elderly Volunteer Voluntary Sector Young Volunteer Independent Sector Formal Volunteer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debbie Haski-Leventhal
    • 1
  • Ed Metz
    • 2
  • Edward Hogg
    • 3
  • Barbara Ibrahim
    • 4
  • David H. Smith
    • 5
  • Lili Wang
    • 6
  1. 1.Israel
  2. 2.USA
  3. 3.UK
  4. 4.USA
  5. 5.USA
  6. 6.China

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