Chris Uggen's Blog: we are volunteers of america

Monday, July 09, 2007

we are volunteers of america

having written a bit about volunteering and the relation between prosocial and antisocial behavior, i try to follow trends in civic participation. my eye was thus caught by a strib story about the corporation for national and community service ranking minneapolis-st. paul as the volunteeringest of 50 big metros in 2007. volunteer rates ranged from 14.4% in las vegas to 40.5% in our fair cities. the data on participation rates are taken from the census bureau's september volunteer supplement to the current population survey. the volunteer rankings and rates:

1 Minneapolis/St. Paul 40.5
2 Salt Lake City 38.4
3 Austin, Texas 38.1
4 Omaha 37.8
5 Seattle 36.3
6 Portland, Ore. 35.8
7 Kansas City, Mo. 34.9
8 Milwaukee 34.4
9 Charlotte, N.C. 34.3
10 Tulsa, Okla. 33.7
11 Cincinnati 33.4
12 Columbus, Ohio 33.3
13 Pittsburgh 32.6
14 Bridgeport, Conn. 32.3
15 Washington 31.9
16 Louisville, Ky. 31.6
17 Denver 31.5
18 St. Louis 30.9
19 Nashville 30.5
20 Dallas 30.3
20 Oklahoma City 30.3
22 New Haven, Conn. 30.2
23 Hartford, Conn. 29.6
23 San Francisco 29.6
25 San Diego 29.2
26 Baltimore 28.6
Nationally 28.1
27 Albuquerque 27.8
28 Indianapolis 27.7
29 Richmond, Va. 27.6
30 Boston 27.5
30 Cleveland 27.5
32 Chicago 27.4
32 San Jose, Calif. 27.4
34 Detroit 27.0
35 San Antonio 26.7
36 Philadelphia 26.6
37 Sacramento 26.5
38 Atlanta 26.1
39 Houston 25.8
39 Tampa, Fla. 25.8
41 Phoenix 23.5
42 Honolulu 23.3
42 Providence, R.I. 23.3
44 Los Angeles 22.3
45 Orlando, Fla. 22.2
46 Riverside, Calif. 20.6
47 Virginia Beach, Va. 19.3
48 New York 18.7
49 Miami 16.1
50 Las Vegas 14.4

i'm sure a good social scientist could find interesting correlates of volunteer participation rates, but the report identifies the following factors:

• high education levels, linked to greater civic involvement.
• short commuting times, leaving more time for residents to volunteer.
• high home ownership, which promotes attachment to the community.
• high concentration of nonprofit organizations, providing opportunities to volunteer.
i'm just happy they didn't identify sanctimoniousness as a strong predictor...


At 5:49 PM, Blogger vabacak said...

Not that much related to the topic, but I just wanted to say that one major factor that most likely contributes to relatively high rates of volunteering in the US is the service learning component in college. Where I come from, becoming a volunteer has mostly been a matter of mobilizing against some politically loaded issue once other means have failed, while in the US it seems young people are early on taught to consider volunteering as a regular component of life in a democratic society. Valerio

At 5:58 PM, Blogger kristina b said...

Hi There. I'm a fellow sociologist (or will be soon, anyway). These data are interesting to me as well. I live in Austin, number 3 on the list. I heard something about it on NPR yesterday. I think they said Austin bucks the home ownership variable because housing prices are on the rise w/o commensurate salary increases. I'm so thoroughly interested in social capital, it's relevance and where it went. Have you done any research on the subject? I'm also interested in how the internet affects social capital, which I'll be doing some research on this summer.

At 12:05 AM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

right, valerio. i think volunteering/service learning can be a meaningful option or addition for sociology courses. many profs remain skeptical about service learning, but many profs remain skeptical about doing anything other than reciting from the same yellowed lecture notes they've used for decades.

kristina, i can't vouch for the home ownership variable, since i think the report just identified basic correlates. have i done research in the area? hmmm. i can't decide whether all of my research concerns this subject or none of it does at all. you can wade through it yourself at:

At 12:22 AM, Blogger Lex10 said...

f**k!! where"s the f***ing album!?!?!? kidding.


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