The link between volunteering and happiness

Jump, a social enterprise that measures and values social impact, has released a report that examines new data and larger sample sizes to understand the relationship between volunteering and wellbeing

This is an edited version of an article which originally appeared on What Works Wellbeing

The Happy Days report builds on previous studies by looking at more recent national datasets, including Understanding Society, with even bigger sample sizes and using even more advanced econometric techniques. Jump was able to further explore, and better understand, the relationship between volunteering and wellbeing.

It addressed the problem of reverse causality by analysing the difference in wellbeing for an individual who starts or stops volunteering. The study found that:

  • Volunteering has a significant positive impact on individual wellbeing – roughly equal to the effect of living in a safe area.
  • Formal volunteering as part of a group improves wellbeing significantly more than informal, irregular volunteering.

Jump has learnt a lot about volunteering and wellbeing over the last few years. The good news is that volunteering is associated with higher levels of wellbeing, better general health and fewer mental health problems, and that this finding has stood up to repeated analysis using the full range of quantitative evidence available in the UK.

The Jump team has undertaken extensive work on wellbeing and they say they are hard-pressed to find an activity that is that good for both the individual and the wider community.

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