Theses Doctoral

Human, Social and Cultural Capital Predictors of Early Baby Boomer Productivity in Mid- to Late Life: An Examination of Formal Volunteering Behavior

Nowell, William

Productive activity supports successful aging by helping to maintain older adults' cognitive and physical functioning and active engagement in life. This study examines the human, social and cultural resources that contribute to productive activity, specifically formal volunteering, among Early Baby Boomers (EBB) during the transition from mid-life to late life. Four time points across 6 years from a sample of 2,684 EBBs aged 51 and older from the Health and Retirement Study (2004-2010) were analyzed using logistic regression and generalized estimating equations. Baseline and longitudinal human, social and cultural capital factors and demographic variables functioned as predictors of formal volunteer engagement and its intensity. High levels of cultural capital, defined as religiosity, significantly increased the likelihood of both formal volunteer engagement and high intensity volunteering. Greater human capital and some forms of social capital also boosted the probability of volunteer engagement, but higher levels of one component of social capital (paid employment) significantly reduced the likelihood of high intensity volunteering. Volunteer engagement and intensity were stable during the observed period, in spite of the Great Recession during the latter waves of data. Gender appeared to have no effect on the likelihood of volunteer engagement or intensity. The distribution of human, social and cultural resources was associated with differences in mid- to late life productivity among EBBs, and productive activities of formal volunteering and paid employment appear to compete for their time. Exploring the unique contributions of aspects of education and religion to volunteerism in future research may lead to more inclusive public policy and programs that facilitate the participation of individuals from a wider array of backgrounds. Such efforts can increase opportunities for formal volunteering among persons transitioning from mid- to late life.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Burnette, Jacqueline D.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014