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The Rural/Urban Volunteering Divide

Abstract

Are rural residents more likely to volunteer than those living in urban places? Although early sociological theory posited that rural residents were more likely to experience social bonds connecting them to their community, increasing their odds of volunteer engagement, empirical support is limited. Drawing upon the full population of rural and urban respondents to the United States Census Bureau’s current population survey volunteering supplement (2002–2015), we found that rural respondents are more likely to report volunteering compared to urban respondents, although these differences are decreasing over time. Moreover, we found that propensities for rural and urban volunteerism vary based on differences in both individual and place-based characteristics; further, the size of these effects differs across rural and urban places. These findings have important implications for theory and empirical analysis.

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Funding

This material is based upon work funded by the Office of Research and Evaluation at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) under Grant No. 18RE207108 through the National Service and Civic Engagement research grant competition. Opinion or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, CNCS. Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Census Bureau. This research was performed at a Federal Statistical Research Data Center under FSRDC Project Number 1833. All results have been reviewed to ensure that no confidential information is disclosed.

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Correspondence to Laurie E. Paarlberg.

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Dr. Paarlberg declares that she has no conflict of interest. Dr. Nesbit declares that she has no conflict of interest. Ms. Jo declares that she has no conflict of interest. Mr. Moss declares that he has no conflict of interest.

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Paarlberg, L.E., Nesbit, R., Choi, S.Y. et al. The Rural/Urban Volunteering Divide. Voluntas (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-021-00401-2

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Keywords

  • Volunteer
  • Rural
  • Urban