A state-of-the-art review of the socio-ecological correlates of volunteerism among older adults

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Lu, Peiyi
Xu, Cai
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Cambridge University Press
Shelley, Mack
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Political Science
The Department of Political Science has been a separate department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (formerly the College of Sciences and Humanities) since 1969 and offers an undergraduate degree (B.A.) in political science, a graduate degree (M.A.) in political science, a joint J.D./M.A. degree with Drake University, an interdisciplinary degree in cyber security, and a graduate Certificate of Public Management (CPM). In addition, it provides an array of service courses for students in other majors and other colleges to satisfy general education requirements in the area of the social sciences.
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The health and social benefits of volunteering behaviours by older adults are well acknowledged. However, few review articles have been concerned with the correlates/dimensions of older adults’ volunteerism. Some focused only on the North American context or reviewed studies only up to 2008. This study reviewed the recent global literature in the past decade about the correlates of older adults’ volunteerism. We carried out a literature search in PsycINFO, Social Services Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts and Google Scholar to identify empirical journal publications about the correlates of older adults’ (age 60+) volunteerism from 2008 to 2019. Among 112 initially eligible papers, 41 were selected. Findings were synthesised using the framework of the Socioecological Model. Existing studies mainly have used quantitative methodologies and were conducted within the context of a single Western country. Motivations included higher education, morale and mentality, previous experiences, social network, community cohesion and organisational management. Major barriers were health and financial constraints. Few studies focused on macro-level correlates. Irrelevant and confounding correlates were also discussed. We suggest practitioners recruit and retain older volunteers by identifying their needs and optimising management within the organisation. Policy makers should create a supportive environment and increase resource accessibility. Future research could conduct cross-cultural comparisons, use diverse methodologies and embrace more correlates, especially at the macro-level.
This accepted article is published as Lu, P., Xu, C., Shelley, M., A State-of-the-Art Review of the Socio-ecological Correlates of Volunteerism Among Older Adults. Ageing & Society, August 2021, 41(8);1833 - 1857 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X20000082. Posted with permission.
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