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The association of human, social, and cultural capital with prevalent volunteering profiles in late midlife


Volunteering can be critical to late middle-aged adults’ well-being. Hence, it is essential to understand the antecedents of volunteering in this age group. The present study of Singaporeans aged 50 to 59 (N = 1620) considered 18 volunteering acts and used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify volunteering profiles. The relationships between human, social, and cultural capital and the derived profiles were then examined with reference to resource theory. We observed three prevalent volunteering profiles: low (having a low tendency to engage in any volunteering acts), informal instrumental (primarily offering instrumental help in informal settings), and diverse (exhibiting instrumental and relational acts in formal and informal settings). Using low volunteering as the reference group, we found that informal instrumental volunteering was only predicted by the strength of social networks (social capital). In contrast, diverse volunteering was predicted by several factors including education level, work status, depressive symptoms (human capital), household size, the strength of social networks, attendance at community events (social capital), and religious affiliation (cultural capital). The LCA-derived volunteering profiles reveal population heterogeneity in terms of volunteering acts. The observed relationships between capital and volunteering profiles have implications for policies promoting volunteering in Singapore.

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Panel on Ageing and Transitions in Health Survey (PATHS) was funded by Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council under its Singapore Translational Research Investigator Award “Establishing a Practical and Theoretical Foundation for Comprehensive and Integrated Community, Policy and Academic Efforts to Improve Dementia Care in Singapore” (NMRC-STAR-0005–2009).

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Correspondence to Grand H.-L. Cheng.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Responsible Editor: Morten Wahrendorf

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Cheng, G.HL., Chan, A., Østbye, T. et al. The association of human, social, and cultural capital with prevalent volunteering profiles in late midlife. Eur J Ageing 19, 95–105 (2022).

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  • Volunteering
  • Latent class analysis
  • Resource theory
  • Late midlife
  • Singapore