Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 819–836 | Cite as

Does it pay to care? Volunteering and employment opportunities

  • Stijn Baert
  • Sunčica Vujić
Original Paper


We investigate whether volunteering has a causal effect on individual employment opportunities. To this end, a field experiment is conducted in which volunteering activities are randomly assigned to fictitious job applications sent to genuine vacancies in Belgium. We find that volunteers are 7.3 percentage points more likely to get a positive reaction to their job applications. The volunteering premium is higher for females but invariant with respect to the number of engagements.


Volunteering Labour market Statistical discrimination Experiments 


C93 D64 J24 J71 



We would like to thank Koen Van De Velde and Morgane Vercruysse for their excellent research assistance. In addition, we are grateful to editor Erdal Tekin, three anonymous reviewers and the participants of the WM workshop at the University of Lille, the 2017 Royal Economic Society Annual Conference, the 31st Annual Conference of the European Society for Population Economics and the 29th conference of the European Association of Labour Economists for their valuable comments to earlier versions of the manuscript and for their constructive suggestions.

Compliance with ethical standards

This research was reviewed and approved by the Ethical Committee of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Ghent University at its meeting of 9 July 2013.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ghent University, University of Antwerp, Universitécatholique de Louvain, GLO and IZAGhentBelgium
  2. 2.University of Antwerp and University of BathAntwerpBelgium

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