What factors predict volunteering among youths in the UK?

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Matthew Bennett and Meenakshi Parameshwaran

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This research explores what factors make young people more likely to
volunteer. It uses wave 2 of Understanding Society to provide the first
large-scale analysis of youth volunteering in the UK. It analyses data
on 4,760 young people aged between 10 and 15.

The research finds that young people with high levels of
cultural capital are more likely to volunteer. Going to the theatre,
concerts, sports events, museums or art galleries had the greatest
influence on youth volunteering and civic engagement. The research also
found significant differences across socio-economic classes, with higher
classes more likely to volunteer. However, these become insignificant
once social and cultural capital were taken into account.

Young people were more likely to volunteer if their parents
did, emphasising the role played by significant adults in moulding the
behaviour of young people.
Young people were also more likely to volunteer if they were
from ethnic minority backgrounds, female or lived in rural areas. While
those who attended religious classes were more likely to volunteer,
there were no differences across religious groups, and attending
religious services had no effect.

The results demonstrate that more needs to be done to engage
lower social class urban white males in their early teenage years.
Mentoring programs could be introduced for those lacking civically
engaged role models. Civic engagement among young people has been linked
to a number of positive outcomes later in life, including greater
wellbeing, academic and career achievement, and fewer problem behaviours
such as substance misuse. As such, it is important that those who lack
social, cultural and human resources are encouraged to participate in
civic activities.


Young People, Societies, Social Capital, Social Stratification and Social Behaviour



Is referenced by: Mowlah, A., Niblett, V., Blackburn, J., and Harris, M. (2014) The value of arts and culture to people and society: an evidence review, Manchester: Arts Council England

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  1. Young people with 'cultural capital' more likely to volunteer, paper says