Ireland is the most recent country to have added questions about volunteering to a national household survey and to generate data about the number of persons that volunteer, the number of hours they dedicated and the types of activity carried out. The survey, conducted from July to September 2013, found that 28.4% of persons aged 15 and over volunteered nearly 233 million hours annually, and broke these data down by demographic variables, employment status, and geographic characteristics.
Interestingly, the same survey also contained questions about well-being in Ireland, permitting data on the two topics to be linked. In doing so, the researchers found that “Those who volunteered, whether they were male or female, were more likely to rate their level of satisfaction as ‘very high’ or high’ than those who did not volunteer,” (76.2% vs. 71.7%, respectively). Further, “those who rated their wellbeing in the ‘very high/high’ category were more likely to be carrying out volunteering work.”
More pronounced was the difference in how volunteers and those who did not volunteer answered the question: “To what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?” Among those who had volunteered, 84.3% responded “highly or very highly worthwhile,” while 75.6% of those who did not volunteer responded the same. In the context of age breakdowns, the disparity is even more stark: 90% of volunteers over 65 rated their activities as being highly or very highly “worthwhile,” as compared to 74% of those who did not volunteer – a 16% difference. And among the youngest cohort aged 16-24, respondents were almost 12% more likely to report that they were “happy yesterday” if they volunteered in the previous four weeks.