The Productivity of Volunteer Labour: DEA-Based Evidence from Italy

  • Sergio Destefanis
  • Ornella Wanda Maietta
Part of the AIEL Series in Labour Economics book series (AIEL)


This paper analyzes the relatively novel concept of a downward-sloping demand for volunteer labour, using data from the Italian social services sector. Both descriptive and econometric evidence shows that the price of volunteer labour (proxied by its shadow price obtained through DEA) is negatively related to the number of volunteer hours. Furthermore, the demand for volunteer labour is higher in areas relatively well endowed with social capital, where there is also evidence that organizations refrain from substituting volunteers for paid workers when the latter become more expensive. According to our results, the productivity of voluntary labour is higher in social capital-rich regions, where more motivated and skilful volunteers are drawn from a relatively larger pool.


Human Capital Nonprofit Organization Marginal Productivity Demand Curve Shadow Price 



We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (PRIN 2005) and from the DISES, University of Salerno.


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Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sergio Destefanis
    • 1
  • Ornella Wanda Maietta
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Economics and Statistics and CELPEUniversity of SalernoFisciano (SA)Italy
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Economics and PolicyUniversity of Napoli Federico II and Centro per la Formazione in Economia e Politica dello Sviluppo RuralePortici (NA)Italy

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