Who volunteers the most?

The Norwegians come in a clear first, with 52% of their adult population doing volunteer work in a significant way. The UK and Sweden come in second and third, with 30% and 28% rates of volunteering. Uganda is next with 23% and then the United States with 22%.

Of the cited countries Mexico comes in last with a volunteering rate of 0.1%. Eastern Europe, Egypt, and Japan fare poorly as well. I would like to see follow-up work on whether these low rates are correlated with tight family structures, or whether they simply represent a low rate of cooperation overall. Might a high aggregate level of volunteering be a response to loneliness and lack of community within the family, or are the two forms of cooperation complements?

The information is from Global Civil Society, by Lester Salamon, S. Wojciech Sokolowski, and Associates. Here is the home page of the research project, with links to data as well.

The same volume (p.78) offers a carefully constructed “civil society index,” although for my tastes it does not distinguish enough between private and public sector efforts. The top five countries for civil society are Netherlands, Norway, U.S., Sweden, and the UK; some of the East African nations (Tanzania, Uganda) score surprisingly well. Mexico, Romania, and Pakistan do poorly.


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