Comparison of Older Volunteers and Older Nonvolunteers in the Philadelphia Area, 1993-1998 (ICPSR 20460)

Published: Dec 22, 2008

Principal Investigator(s):
Norah Shultz, Arcadia University

Version V1

This research was undertaken to uncover the predictors of volunteerism for older persons and to determine the mental health benefits of such activity. The study was conducted from August 1993 until July 1998 in the greater Philadelphia area. A sample of White and African American males and females aged 65 and older were chosen for the study. For the study, four types of volunteer activity were developed. The first two types were "continuous volunteers," those who volunteer throughout the life course, and "continuous nonvolunteers," those who never volunteered. The third type, the "new volunteer," is a person who never volunteered earlier in life but has begun volunteering in later years, most probably as a substitute for lost work or family roles. The last type is the "lost volunteer," the person who once participated in volunteer activities but now has withdrawn from the role. Structural factors included age and income. Cultural factors included perceived importance and past volunteer activity. Perceived importance included level of agreement to a series of five statements such as, "People with unused skills and talents should make use of them by doing volunteer work," and "Volunteer work is essential to meet the communitys' needs." These items were developed specifically for use by persons aged 65 and older. In order to determine past volunteer behavior, a composite measure was created which included any prior volunteer behavior mentioned by both the current volunteers and those currently not volunteering, as well as including any volunteer work of the current volunteers that was a continuation of prior work.

Shultz, Norah. Comparison of Older Volunteers and Older Nonvolunteers in the Philadelphia Area, 1993-1998. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-12-22.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health (R29-48119)


1993-08 -- 1998-07

1993-08 -- 1998-07

The sample was generated through the use of purchased addresses and a phone list. The process is referred to as Targeted Age Sampling, and is based on lists drawn from telephone directories and supplemented with automobile registration information, where accessible. Homes in the greater Philadelphia area with heads of households over 65 were targeted.

Homes in the greater Philadelphia area with heads of households aged 65 years and older.


survey data

The response rate was 15 percent.

The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Index (CES-D) was used to measure the respondents overall depression.



2008-12-22 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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