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Volunteering and Country-Level Religiosity: Evidence from the European Union

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Abstract

Research on volunteering has emphasized the positive role played by individual religiosity on this type of civic engagement. There are fewer studies on the relation between contextual religiosity and volunteer work. Several of them have concluded that the higher the macro-contextual religiosity, the higher the propensity to get involved in volunteering. Thereby, researchers might be inclined to conclude that secularization is a threat to this social participation. This article shows that such a conclusion is unfounded. From a data set including the 27 countries of the European Union and using a multilevel analysis to control for the compositional effects of the national sample, we obtain a negative correlation between macro-contextual religiosity and volunteering. From these results, we suggest that the relationship between volunteering and contextual religiosity cannot be considered as deterministic but it has to be comprehended in a more global cultural context.

Résumé

La recherche portant sur le bénévolat a souligné le rôle positif joué par la religiosité personnelle sur ce type d’engagement civique. Il existe cependant moins d’études portant sur la relation entre la religiosité contextuelle et le travail bénévole. Parmi celles-ci, plusieurs ont conclu que plus la religiosité macro-contextuelle est importante, plus la propension à s’engager dans le bénévolat est forte. Ainsi, les chercheurs pourraient être tentés de conclure que la sécularisation constitue une menace pour cet engagement social. Cet article démontre qu’une telle conclusion serait infondée. En se basant sur un ensemble de données comprenant les 27 pays de l’Union européenne, et grâce à une analyse hétérarchique permettant de corriger les effets liés à la composition des échantillons nationaux, nous obtenons une corrélation négative entre la religiosité macro-contextuelle et le bénévolat. Ces résultats nous permettent de suggérer que la relation entre le bénévolat et la religiosité contextuelle ne peut pas être considérée comme déterministe et qu’elle doit être intégrée dans un contexte culturel plus global.

Zusammenfassung

Forschungen zur ehrenamtlichen Tätigkeit betonen die positive Rolle, die die individuelle Religiösität bei dieser Art von bürgerlichem Engagement spielt. Doch gibt es weniger Studien zur Beziehung zwischen kontextabhängiger Religiösität und ehrenamtlicher Tätigkeit. Mehrere dieser Studien sind zu dem Schluss gekommen, dass je höher die makrokontextabhängige Religiösität, desto größer ist die Tendenz zu einer ehrenamtlichen Tätigkeit. Dabei neigen Forscher unter Umständen zu der Schlussfolgerung, dass die Säkularisierung eine Bedrohung für eine derartige soziale Beteiligung darstellt. Der vorliegende Beitrag zeigt, dass ein solcher Rückschluss unbegründet ist. Datenmaterial aus den 27 EU-Ländern und die Anwendung einer Mehrebenenanalyse zur Kontrolle der kompositionellen Effekte der nationalen Stichprobe zeigen eine negative Wechselbeziehung zwischen makrokontextabhängiger Religiösität und einer ehrenamtlichen Tätigkeit. Aufgrund dieser Ergebnisse behaupten wir, dass die Beziehung zwischen ehrenamtlichem Engagement und kontextabhängiger Religiösität nicht als deterministisch betrachtet werden kann, sondern in einem globaleren kulturellen Kontext zu verstehen ist.

Resumen

La investigación sobre el voluntariado ha hecho hincapié en el papel positivo desempeñado por la religiosidad individual sobre este tipo de compromiso cívico. Existen algunos estudios sobre la relación entre la religiosidad contextual y el trabajo de voluntario. Varios de ellos han concluido que cuanto mayor es la religiosidad macro-contextual, mayor es la propensión a implicarse en el voluntariado. De ahí que los investigadores puedan verse inclinados a concluir que la secularización es una amenaza para esta participación social. El presente artículo muestra que dicha conclusión es infundada. A partir de un conjunto de datos que incluye a los 27 países de la Unión Europea y utilizando un análisis multi-nivel para controlar los efectos composicionales de la muestra nacional, obtenemos una correlación negativa entre la religiosidad macro-contextual y el voluntariado. A partir de estos resultados, sugerimos que la relación entre voluntariado y religiosidad contextual no puede ser considerada como determinista y tiene que ser comprendida en un contexto cultural más global.

要約

以往关于志愿者活动的研究着重于探究个体宗教虔诚度对此种公民参与活动所扮演的正面作用。针对大背景下的宗教虔诚度与志愿者工作之间的关系的研究则比较少。在这些少数的研究中,有几个研究认为,大背景下的宗教虔诚度越高,则人们参与志愿者活动的倾向就越明显。因而,一些研究人员也许会倾向于认为,世俗化将对此种社会参与活动造成威胁。本文则将证明,此种观点是没有根据的。根据来自27个欧盟国家的数据资料,利用多层级分析控制国家范围内样本的复合作用,我们发现,大背景下的宗教虔诚度与志愿活动之间呈负相关关系。根据这些结果,我们认为,志愿活动与大背景下的宗教虔诚度之间的关系更应该放在全球文化背景下理解,而不能被认为是确定的、一成不变的。

ملخص

قد أكدت البحوث حول العمل التطوعي على الدور الإيجابي الذي يلعبه التدين الفردي على هذا النوع من المشاركة المدنية. هناك عدد قليل من الدراسات حول العلاقة بين التدين السياقي والعمل التطوعي. إستنتج العديد منهم أنه كلما ارتفع التدين-السياقي الكلي، يرتفع الميل للإنخراط في العمل التطوعي. بالتالي، قد يميل الباحثون إلى إستنتاج أن العلمنة تشكل تهديدا˝ لهذه المشاركة الإجتماعية. يوضح هذا المقال أن مثل هذا الإستنتاج لا أساس له. من مجموعة بيانات بما في ذلك 27 بلد من الإتحاد الأوروبي وبإستخدام التحليل المتعدد المستويات للسيطرة على الآثار التركيبية من العينة الوطنية، حصلنا على وجود علاقة سلبية بين التدين-السياقي الكلي والعمل التطوعي. من هذه النتائج، نقترح أن العلاقة بين العمل التطوعي والتدين السياقي لا يمكن إعتبارها حتمية ولكن لا بد من فهمها في سياق ثقافي أكثر عالمية.

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Notes

  1. The differences are not significant when the confidence intervals of the new coefficients and the ones of the previous coefficients overlap. The complete results of these regressions are available from the authors upon request.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank an anonymous reviewer whose comments were helpful.

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Correspondence to Lionel Prouteau.

Appendices

Appendix 1: A Multilevel Model of the Propensity to Volunteer

Statistical multilevel models are recommended for analysing multilevel data i.e. data which can be viewed as a multistage sample. That is the case in the European Values Survey since individuals (level 1) are nested within their countries (level 2). If we want to introduce country contextual variables, all individuals of the same country will have the same level 2 variables. In this framework, using ordinary statistical tests is not convenient because they lead to statistically significant results which are spurious (Hox 2010).

In our paper, the dependent variable that we observe, y ij , is the binary response concerning the voluntary behaviour for individual i in country j with y ij  = 1 if the individual is volunteer and 0 otherwise. The probability of the response equal to one [Pr(y ij  = 1)] is noted p ij . Multilevel models can be used when the outcome variables are binary (Guo and Zhao 2000; Powers 2012). Let p ij be modelled using a logit link function or log-odds transformation. Logistic regression transforms the dependent variable:

$$\eta_{ij} = \log \left( {\frac{{p_{ij} }}{{1 - p_{ij} }}} \right).$$

The multilevel model appears as follows.

Individual Level or Level 1 Model

$$\eta_{ij} = \gamma_{0j} + \gamma_{1j} X_{1ij} + \gamma_{2j} X_{2ij} + \cdots + \gamma_{nj} X_{nij} ,$$
(1)

where γ 0j is the within-country intercept in country j, γ 1j ,…,γ nj are the coefficients associated to the n explanatory variables X 1,…,X n .

Country Level or Level 2 Model

$$\gamma_{0j} = \beta_{00} + \beta_{01} Z_{j} + u_{0j} .$$
(2)

β 00 is the average intercept across countries, β 01 is the slope of the country intercepts regressed on the level 2 variable Z j . For instance Z j may be the share of national population attending religious services at least once a week. If β 01 is positive, the average propensity to volunteer is higher in more religious countries and the opposite is true if β 01 is negative. In the paper, we introduce several explanatory variables of Z j type. u 0j is a random component which is assumed to be normally distributed with a mean of zero and a variance \(\sigma_{{u_{0} }}^{2} .\)

If we assume that the coefficients associated to the n explanatory variables X 1,…,X n do not vary across countries, as we do in our paper, we have:

$$\gamma_{1j} = \beta_{10} ,\quad \gamma_{2j} = \beta_{20} , \ldots ,\gamma_{nj} = \beta_{n0} .$$
(3)

Combining (1)–(3) gives:

$$\eta_{ij} = \beta_{00} + \beta_{10} X_{1ij} + \beta_{20} X_{2ij} + \cdots + \beta_{n0} X_{nij} + \beta_{01} Z_{j} + u_{0j} .$$
(4)

In this version of the model, \(\beta_{00} + \beta_{10} X_{1ij} + \beta_{20} X_{2ij} + \cdots + \beta_{n0} X_{nij} + \beta_{01} Z_{j}\) is the fixed part while u 0j is the random effect. To estimate this combined model, we use the NLMIXED procedure from SAS software.

Although we have not done it in this stage of our research, we could consider a more elaborated model where the coefficients of individual-level variables change across countries, the Eqs. (2) and (3) become:

$$\gamma_{0j} = \beta_{00} + \beta_{01} Z_{j} + u_{0j} ,$$
(2a)
(3a)

The Eq. (4) of the combined model becomes:

$$\eta_{ij} = \beta_{00} + \beta_{01} Z_{j} + u_{0j} + \beta_{10} X_{1ij} + \beta_{11} Z_{j} X_{1ij} + u_{1j} X_{1ij} + \cdots + \beta_{n0} X_{nij} + \beta_{n1} ZX_{nij} + u_{nj} X_{nij} .$$
(4a)

After rearranging, we have:

$$\eta_{ij} = \beta_{00} + \beta_{10} X_{1ij} + \cdots + \beta_{n0} X_{nij} + \beta_{01} Z_{j} + \beta_{11} Z_{j} X_{1ij} + \cdots + \beta_{n1} Z_{{}} X_{nij} + u_{0j} + u_{1j} X_{1ij} + \cdots + u_{nj} X_{nij}$$

Now, we have [β 00 + β 10 X 1ij  +···+ β n0 X nij  + β 01 Z j  + β 11 Z j X 1ij  +···+ β n1 ZX nij ] as fixed effects and [u 0j  + u 1j X 1ij  +···+ u nj X nij ] as random effects.

So, as a consequence of the assumption that coefficients of individual-level variables vary across countries, interaction terms such as Z j X 1ij ,…Z j X nij , appear. Note that in this version we have only one explanatory variable at the country level. With two or more variables of this type, the expression of (4a) is more complex.

Appendix 2

See Table 4.

Table 4 Multi-level analysis of religiosity effects on volunteering in the European Union: second specification

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Prouteau, L., Sardinha, B. Volunteering and Country-Level Religiosity: Evidence from the European Union. Voluntas 26, 242–266 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-013-9431-0

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