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Active ageingVoluntary work by older people in Europe$

Andrea Principi, Per H. Jensen, and Giovanni Lamura

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447307204

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447307204.001.0001

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Older Volunteers in Denmark: A Large Voluntary Sector in a Highly Developed Welfare State

Older Volunteers in Denmark: A Large Voluntary Sector in a Highly Developed Welfare State

Chapter:
(p.71) FOUR Older Volunteers in Denmark: A Large Voluntary Sector in a Highly Developed Welfare State
Source:
Active ageing
Author(s):

Per H. Jensen

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447307204.003.0004

Abstract and Keywords

The Danish Social Democratic Welfare regime is characterized by the combination of a strong welfare state, a strong civil society, high levels of labor force participation and a dual breadwinner model. Thus, the strong welfare state has not crowded out civil society organizations. The rate of volunteering is rather high as compared to the other countries in this volume. But the welfare state has certainly helped structure the character of voluntary organizations. The welfare state has assumed most of the tasks related to the social and health care sectors. In effect, voluntary work opportunities within these sectors are rather limited. Only 9% of all voluntary activities consist of social and health-related services. In turn, this may have had a negative effect on volunteering among older people, as seniors are strongly oriented towards traditional charity giving based on altruistic motivations. Those 66-85 years of age are far less active in voluntary organizations than younger age groups. No impediments, e.g. in the form of care obligations older relatives (it's a state responsibility) or wage work (employment rates are low for older people) hinder volunteering among older people, but health and class do play a role for volunteering. Most municipalities have a voluntary policy, but overall policy programs stimulating the supply and demand for older volunteers are marginal.

Keywords:   social democratic welfare regime, older volunteers, strong civil society, voluntary work, self-expressive, supply and demand

Introduction

It has sometimes been alleged that a voluminous welfare state as well as a heavy workload from formal employment reduces people's propensity to carry out voluntary work (Rostow, 1960; Wolfe, 1989; Fukuyama, 1995). One should therefore expect the level of voluntary work to be rather low in Denmark, in part because Denmark has a highly developed institutional welfare state, and because Danish labour force participation rates are rather high, reaching, in 2007, 81.8 per cent for men and 76.2 per cent for women. Furthermore, most women in employment work full time, which has been made possible by the provision of extensive and universal social services (child and elder care), financed by individual and progressive taxation. The Danish family model may thus be characterised as a dual breadwinner/ external care model (Pfau-Effinger, 2004).

The welfare state–labour market–family–voluntary work nexus, however, is rather complex. In accordance with the findings of Williams and Windebank (1998, p 31), the Danish experience demonstrates that welfare state growth, increasing labour force participation rates and growth in civil society organisations can take place simultaneously. In 2007 the total number of voluntary organisations in Denmark was about 100,000. Out of a total population of 5.5 million, 38 per cent was engaged in voluntary work, and the economic value of voluntary work amounted to 9.6 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) (Center for frivilligt socialt abejde, 2001). The voluntary sector has earnings totalling DKK 96.4 billion per year, equivalent to €12.9 billion. Of this, 50 per cent is from membership fees and production of goods, 37 per cent from public transfers, 7 per cent from gifts and sponsoring and 6 per cent from other sources such as interest rates.

(p.72) Although the welfare state has not crowded out voluntary work in Denmark, it has certainly helped to structure (and is itself structured by) the voluntary sector. Voluntary work is a highly complex phenomenon, but it is possible to make a distinction between two major forms, according to the motives of the providers (Sivesind et al, 2002; Jensen et al, 2009): voluntary work may be philanthropic, that is, targeted at the production of classical welfare provision against social risks such as poverty, homelessness, sickness and so on; or it may be self-centred or self-expressive, that is, targeted towards leisure activities in the form of sport, culture and so on. In a highly advanced and de-commodifiying welfare state there is little room for philanthropic or charitable activities. Accordingly, voluntary work in countries such as Denmark is concentrated around sport, culture and leisure activities, rather than private charitable giving (Jensen and Rathlev, 2009).

In countries where voluntary work is extensive and/or increasing, one may expect that older people become more and more enrolled in the voluntary sector. This assumption ties in with a shift in the perception of older people. The first retirement studies, dating from the 1950s and 1960s, assumed that older people would lose the skills to function socially and would disengage from social life (Burgess, 1960; Cumming and Henry, 1961). By contrast, more recent theories have argued that the loss of role of the retiree as participant in the labour market would be compensated for by a more active role in other social fields (Atchley, 1989; Laslett, 1989; Richardson, 1999; Phillipson, 2002). As such, the role compensation theory allows for stable or even increased social integration, and continuity may be attained through volunteering (Richardson, 1999; Phillipson, 2002). In 2004, about 15 per cent of all volunteers in Denmark were aged 66-85, while 23 per cent of the total population in this age group was enrolled in voluntary work (Koch-Nielsen et al, 2005).

The aim of this chapter is to analyse the background, size, composition and enrolment of older people in the voluntary sector in Denmark. It then discusses factors that may facilitate or restrict the entry of older people into civil society organisations, and it examines discrepancies between the supply and demand for older people in the voluntary sector. It concludes with a brief discussion as to how older people are related to the voluntary sector in the Danish welfare state.

The Danish Tradition of Voluntary Action

Voluntary work in the form of charity giving in Denmark can be traced back to the late 18th century, but it was not until the mid-19th (p.73) century that voluntary work mushroomed (Lützen, 1998; Henriksen et al, 2012) and became an integrated part of civil society. As the welfare state matured in the 1960s and 1970s, however, philanthropic forms of voluntary work became somewhat marginalised. In particular, philanthropic voluntary work within the area of social policy gained a reputation as being something without any professional expertise, although well intentioned, and therefore not representing a serious contribution to solving social problems.

As of the 1980s, however, a new discourse emerged, propagating a positive view of philanthropic voluntary work and voluntary philanthropic organisations as active participants in Danish society. In 1983 the Minister for Social Affairs set up the Danish Committee on Volunteer Effort, a political committee made up of representatives from public authorities and voluntary organisations. The aim of this ‘Committee on Volunteer Effort is to bolster the possibility for individuals, groups of citizens and private associations and organisations to participate in the solution of tasks in the social policy area’ (Ministry of Social Affairs, 2001, p 14). Indeed, philanthropic voluntary work has gained a much higher status than previously, and has now become widely appreciated in Danish society, in the hope or belief that the voluntary sector could relieve economic pressure on the welfare state by preventing and solving social problems (Hegeland, 1994; Henriksen, 1995). To support this endeavour, philanthropic voluntary institutions have increasingly been subsidised by the state over the last 10-15 years. The aim has not been to replace public welfare services by voluntary organisations, but rather to stimulate the development of alternative initiatives that can reach those vulnerable groups (drug addicts, prostitutes and so on) who have turned their back on the public welfare system. Philanthropic voluntary work has, however, remained a marginal phenomenon within the Danish social policy area, in that it has remained a minor supplement to the public sector (Boje, 2006a). Voluntary organisations within the social policy area are often staffed with paid employees, that is, in some voluntary organisations work is paid for and carried out as ordinary full-time wage work.

Nevertheless, as already underlined, volunteering in Denmark is mainly self-centred or self-expressive –to some extent subsidised by the public sector, but mainly financed by users' fees, for example, in sports clubs –and this kind of volunteering is most often carried out as unpaid work. As self-centred or self-expressive forms of voluntary work predominates, it can be said that the development trajectories of the voluntary sector in Denmark is more young-than old-friendly, (p.74) since young people in particular seem to prefer non-philanthropic volunteer work (Morrow-Howell, 2010).

The legal framework

Voluntary organisations in Denmark are regulated by civil law. Because there is no official register for such organisations, they do not register, either totally or within the different areas of their voluntary activities. Volunteer organisations are, however, obliged to register as a ‘company’ by public authorities, if they employ people and/or buy or sell goods, the aim being to avoid tax evasion or tax fraud in relation to income tax and/or value-added tax (VAT). About 45 per cent of all voluntary organisations are registered as a ‘company’ (Boje and Ibsen, 2006).

Hardly any legal framework regulates the voluntary sector in Denmark, with two exceptions: first, in 2005 the entry of teachers/ instructors into voluntary organisations was restricted in some ways. The aim of the legislation was to prevent people convicted of paedophilia from enrolling in voluntary organisations such as scout clubs, sports clubs, and so on, in which children below the age of 15 are active. The legislation implies an obligation for such organisations to obtain a so-called ‘child certificate’ for volunteers before recruiting them as instructors or teachers. This is issued by public authorities and contains information about convictions for paedophilia. This legislation mirrors the reality that a large share of voluntary work is targeted towards children and younger people within areas such as sports, culture and so on.

Second, in Denmark municipalities bear the major responsibility for providing welfare services (schools, child and elder care and so on), which are financed, to a large extent, by local taxes. The Law on Social Service, however, includes a paragraph (para 18) that concerns voluntary work within the social policy area. It stipulates that municipalities must cooperate with voluntary social organisations and annually earmark an amount of money for voluntary social work. This may, of course, increase local government expenditure. To soften the economic pressure on the municipalities, the Parliament has granted municipalities about DKK 130 million (about €17 million) per year in the form of extra conditional grants (from the state), to compensate for the costs of subsidising voluntary organisations.

The Law on Social Service (para 79) also allows municipalities to transfer prophylactic social policy schemes to pensioners' clubs or senior associations. In addition to encouraging seniors' own voluntary work, the Ministry of Welfare also supports voluntary work targeting (p.75) older people. For instance, in 2006 and 2007 the Ministry of Welfare granted about DKK 4.5 million (equivalent to €0.6 million) to projects aimed at relieving older people's feelings of isolation (Rambøll, 2009).

The dimension of volunteer work

In Denmark, the number of people participating in voluntary work has increased substantially over the last 15 years. In the early 1990s about 25 per cent of the adult Danish population (aged 16-85) participated in unpaid voluntary work, while the number increased to 35 per cent1 by 2004. On average, each volunteer performs about four hours of unpaid voluntary work per week (Koch-Nielsen et al, 2005; Fridberg et al, 2006).

Voluntary organisations

The total number of voluntary organisations in Denmark is 100,200: 83,000 associations, 8,000 independent institutions, 6,200 ‘funds for the common good’ and 3,000 nationwide organisations (Boje and Ibsen, 2006). These voluntary organisations enrol, as already mentioned, about 35 per cent of the total population aged 16-85 (about 1.5 million people) into unpaid voluntary work. The non-profit sector furthermore employs about 200,000 people as wage earners, of which 70 per cent work full time (Boje, 2006b). A large share of these are employed in independent schools, non-profit kindergartens, trade unions and so on. Employees in the non-profit sector amount to about 5 per cent of total employment.

European data seem to indicate that there is a connection between volunteering and the degree of urbanisation (Gaskin and Smith, 1995). In accordance with these findings, volunteering in Denmark is slightly more predominant in the rural provinces compared to highly urbanised areas. Indeed, Koch-Nielsen et al (2005, p 32) have found that volunteering amounts to 36 per cent in rural districts and provinces and 31 per cent in the capital and its suburbs. And the creation of longstanding social networks seems to increase the propensity to volunteer, as data show that the longer a person has been living in the same municipality, the more they will be inclined to engage in voluntary work.

(p.76) Volunteers by Sector, Gender and Age

Table 4.1 shows the sectoral and gendered composition of voluntary activities in Denmark. As can be seen, 35 per cent of the population is engaged in voluntary work, although if the column ‘All’ is added up, it amounts to more than 35 per cent. This inconsistency is due to the fact that the same person may perform voluntary work in more than

Table 4.1: Proportions of the Danish population performing voluntary work during 2004, by sector and gender (%)

Sector

Men

Women

All

Sport (eg sports clubs, dancing, swimming)

14

9

11

Housing, local community (eg housing associations, cable services provision)

8

4

6

Other leisure activities (eg hobbies, genealogy, scouting)

5

4

5

Culture (eg museums, local historical archives, choirs)

3

3

3

Education, research (eg boards of directors, adult or spare-time education)

3

4

3

Health-related (eg blood donor, patients' associations, crisis counselling)

2

4

3

Social (eg drop-in centres, refugee support groups)

2

4

3

Organisational work, trade and branch organisations (eg trade unions, employers' associations)

3

2

3

International activities (eg humanitarian, peace and solidarity organisations)

1

2

2

Religion, church-related (eg parochial church council, Sunday School)

2

2

2

Politics, party associations (eg constituency associations, grass-roots organisations)

2

1

1

Environment (eg environmental preservation, protection of animals)

1

>1

>1

Counselling, legal aid (eg consumer, human rights, legal aid)

1

>1

>1

Other areas

2

3

3

Volunteer work in all

38

32

35

n

1,502

1,632

3,134

Note: Question asked to respondents: ‘Here are some questions about voluntary unpaid work. Voluntary unpaid work can be performed in many different areas. Often voluntary work is done for voluntary organisations, but it can also be done for a public or private company. Unpaid voluntary work is conducted in many different areas of society andis related to many different activities: one can train a local football team; one can be a custodian in a museum, collect money for charity, be a board member for a homeowner's association or at a school, help out at a drop-in centre, etc. The term “voluntary work” does not, however, include help given to family members or close friends. Do you work as a volunteer within one or more of the following areas?’

Source: Fridberg et al (2006)

(p.77) one voluntary sector. Of all volunteers in Denmark, 24 per cent are active in more than one voluntary sector (Fridberg et al, 2006, p 44).

The major part of voluntary work in Denmark is performed in sports, culture and similar activities, as about 45 per cent of all voluntary work in Denmark is done in these two sectors of societal life (Koch-Nielsen and Clausen, 2002). Sport is the primary sector of voluntary work, with 11 per cent of the total population –or 29 per cent of all volunteers –active in this sector. Activities such as ‘housing, local community’ (16 per cent of all volunteers) and ‘other leisure activities’ (13 per cent of all volunteers) subsequently follow. ‘Social’ and ‘health-related’ activities are not extensively performed, as altogether only about 16 per cent of all voluntary activities are carried out in these two ‘traditional’ welfare sectors of voluntary work.

Men seem to be slightly more likely to volunteer as compared with women, and tend also to commit more hours to voluntary work. They are also more inclined to volunteering even when having a full-time job, while women are more disposed to do voluntary work when they have only a part-time job (Jensen and Rathlev, 2009). Another gender-specific feature is that, while men are more active in sectors such as ‘sport’ and ‘housing, local community’, women are more inclined to do voluntary work in sectors associated with the care of people, such as in the ‘health’ and ‘social’ sectors. Gender differences, however, are generally not so conspicuous.

Table 4.2 shows how voluntary work is structured according to sector and age. In agreement with studies based on data from the US, Australia and the European Union (EU) (Warburton et al, 2001; Erlinghagen and Hank, 2006; Rozario, 2006), the frequency of volunteering peaks in middle age and declines in later life. In Denmark, only 23 per cent of the total population aged 66+ is enrolled in voluntary work. By contrast, Danish data also shows that

Table 4.2: Voluntary work by sector and age (%)

Age/sector

Leisure

Social/health

Politics

Education

Housing/local community

Other

Total

n

16-29

18

4

4

3

1

5

32

622

30-49

23

6

6

6

8

5

41

1,240

50-65

15

7

7

1

8

6

35

805

66-

10

6

2

1

5

5

23

467

All

18

6

5

3

6

5

35

3,134

Source: Fridberg et al (2006, p 58)

(p.78) the number of hours each individual spends on voluntary work tends to increase with age: while volunteers aged 30-49 spend on average 15 hours per month, people aged 66+ on average spend 18 hours per month (Anker and Koch-Nielsen, 1995; Koch-Nielsen et al, 2005). It furthermore seems that different age cohorts are attracted by different kinds of voluntary work. People aged 66+ are dispositioned towards voluntary work in sectors such as ‘social/health’, ‘housing, local community’ and ‘other’, and less so in areas such as ‘leisure’ and ‘education’.

In general, voluntary work in Denmark is not primarily done by people who have the most leisure time, but by those who are already very active with their job and family. The ‘typical’ volunteer worker is male, aged 30-49, has a higher education, is full-time employed, has children and lives in a small town or rural area. A large part of voluntary work is performed by people in relation to their own children's leisure activities (Fridberg et al, 2006, p 52).

Participation of older volunteers

The prototypical older volunteer in Denmark is a ‘younger’ senior with relatively good health, relatively well educated and wealthy, and an ethnic Dane. Older males, however, are more active in regard to volunteer administrative work, whereas women and men are more or less equally active when it comes to practical kinds of work (Leeson, 2005). Still, women are more active in terms of practical voluntary work such as planning an excursion, a summer fête, transporting older people, providing counselling, volunteering as a visiting friend, helping in a second-hand shop or senior centre. Every eighth woman, or 13 per cent of the group of 60-to 74-year-olds, has volunteered in this kind of work –among the men, the share is only half this number. That is, voluntary work is linked to gender in the sense that older women primarily volunteer for practical work, while older men primarily volunteer in activities such as board work (Andersen and Appeldorn, 1995).

The main reason for older volunteers doing voluntary work is based on a combination of self-centred and altruistic motivations. As can be seen from Table 4.3, the predominant reason older adults engage in voluntary work is an inclination to do something for other people, which is especially the case for males aged 75+. But self-centred motives, such as an interest in meeting new people and to make one's life more meaningful, are also a main drive behind voluntary work.

(p.79)

Table 4.3: Motives reported for volunteering, according to age and gender, 2002 (%)

75-79

65-69

55-59

45-49

My life becomes more meaningful

Males

44

62

56

68

Females

44

60

54

53

I meet other people

Males

60

77

66

79

Females

65

68

71

70

It gives me better self-esteem

Males

31

22

28

34

Females

31

26

29

34

I get greater influence over something

Males

22

29

28

42

Females

20

23

25

39

I do it to help others/to do something for others

Males

67

55

58

76

Females

58

66

68

77

I do it because I am interested in the specific project or issue

Males

62

71

75

70

Females

60

71

69

75

I learn new things

Males

29

52

48

57

Females

26

52

44

60

Note: Question asked to respondents: ‘People have different reasons for engaging in voluntary work. Have any of the circumstances we will now mention had importance for you?’

Source: Leeson (2005, p 54, Table 1.19)

There is also a difference between how older and younger people are recruited by the voluntary sector: younger people volunteer for ‘self-expressive’ reasons, that is, they are driven by pure interest, whereas older people often volunteer on being requested or persuaded to do so by other people (Koch-Nielsen et al, 2005).

Organisations of older volunteers are not widespread in Denmark; rather, few voluntary organisations target older people. The largest body organising older people in Denmark is the DaneAge Association, which is a mix of a special interest institution, non-governmental organisation (NGO) and voluntary organisation, although independent of party politics, religion and ethnic origins. It was founded in 1986, has 542,000 members and organises about 27 per cent of all Danes aged 50+ (see www.aeldresagen.dk/Medlemmer/detgoervifordig/omos/english/Sider/Default.aspx). It is a nationwide organisation with 219 local committees across Denmark, whose purpose is to ‘support a person's right to create an active and meaningful life on their own terms, and actively be able to participate in society, regardless of age’. DaneAge provides assistance, support and counselling to those who need or want to engage in volunteer work. Within its framework, about 5,500 volunteers are engaged in social humanitarian activities, such as strengthening the networks of older people living alone, (p.80) escorting them to hospital and so on. Even if not expressly targeting only older volunteers, another large organisation that involves mostly the latter is the Danish Red Cross, organising 5,000 volunteers in a ‘visiting friend’ scheme, its aim being to break the isolation and loneliness of older people living alone.

Older people's participation in voluntary organisations: opportunities and restrictions

The numerous voluntary organisations in Denmark function as an ‘opportunity structure’ for older people to act as volunteers in civil society. Studies from the US, Australia and the Netherlands (Baldock, 1999; Warburton and Cordingley, 2004; Hinterlong and Williamson, 2006) have shown, however, that older people are sometimes faced with discriminatory practices and negative stereotypes held about older people, which might function as a barrier to actual participation. Therefore, the aim of this section is to (1) give an account of the opportunities for and restrictions on older people's participation in voluntary organisations in Denmark; (2) show how older people experience the tension between employment and volunteering; and (3) illustrate how older people are positioned in the relationship between care and volunteering. This endeavour is, however, somewhat constrained by the fact that Danish data seldom specifies older people's engagement in civil society organisations, whereas data on restrictions and opportunities for the population as a whole are more easily available.

Opportunities and restrictions for volunteering for older people

In general, volunteering is strongly associated with preferences as to how people wish to spend their leisure time. In Denmark, 65 per cent of all non-volunteers state that they don't have the time for or prefer to spend their time with something other than voluntary work. In later life, when leisure time increases, however, volunteering may be progressively more obstructed by physical limitations and mental health conditions. Thus, illness and disability as a barrier to participation might primarily well apply to older people. Indeed, in Denmark, 24 per cent of the population aged 66+ refers to health as a reason for not volunteering (Koch-Nielsen et al, 2005).

Socio-economically advantaged segments of the population are more disposed to participate in voluntary work than less advantaged groups. There is a particularly strong association between volunteering (p.81) and higher education (Fridberg et al, 2006) –that is, higher education is a strong predictor for volunteering. This does not apply to the ‘social’ sector of voluntary work, however, where education does not influence participation. Another influential factor on volunteering is place of residence –volunteering is more widespread in the countryside or provincial towns than in Denmark's capital and its suburbs.

Church attendance and other forms of civic engagement, such as political participation, are positively associated with volunteering. Voluntary activities are systematically related to the frequency of church attendance and the degree to which people are interested in politics and political conditions (Fridberg et al, 2006, pp 55ff). The frequency of church attendance increases with age; while 16.8 per cent of people aged 30-39 attend church 2-11 times a year, the figure is 32 per cent for people aged 80-89. By contrast, interest in politics peaks at the ages of 50-59, as 30.5 per cent of the population in this age group report that they are strongly interested in politics. Still, an interest in politics is more pronounced among older than younger people: only 14.9 per cent of those aged 30-39 are strongly interested in politics, while the figure is 24.3 for those aged 80-89 (data from the 2005 Danish election survey).

The disposition to participate in voluntary work may not turn into actual practice, however, inasmuch as there is a mismatch between supply and demand for voluntary workers. As argued by Ibsen (2006), for instance, organisational characteristics of the voluntary sector are of vital importance for the degree of volunteering. Such characteristics are the size, structure, membership composition and the purpose of the voluntary organisations. As to the latter, 57 per cent of all activities are cultural, leisure and pastime activities, whereas only 9 per cent of all voluntary activities are made up of social and health-oriented services. As such, the characteristics of voluntary organisations only partially match the predispositions of older adults. The latter are mainly disposed towards activities that benefit the receiver of the service, and older volunteers are mainly engaged in social and humanitarian activities (Leeson, 2005), such as ‘visiting friends’, self-help groups, drop-in centres and so on. Hence, the share of people who volunteer in social and humanitarian activities increases from 13 per cent for men aged 45-49 to 20 per cent for men aged 75-79, and from 17 per cent for women aged 45-49 to 45 per cent for women aged 75-79.

Since the mid-1980s, the state has been implementing several social investment programmes supporting the development of the voluntary sector. Typically, these programmes support economically (p.82) voluntary work with the aim of solving social problems, combating marginalisation and exclusion, and so on. Within these programmes nationwide voluntary organisations are also subsidised economically. Such organisations include organisations for people with disabilities, organisations for older people and similar bodies. The social investment programmes have, over the years, also supported research in to how to improve the functioning of the voluntary sector.

In 1998 the interaction between the welfare state and voluntary social work organisations was taken one step further, as the Social Service Act (para 18) imposed on municipalities the duty to support economically and cooperate with voluntary organisations. In effect, about 60-80 per cent of all municipalities in Denmark have a voluntary policy (Socialministeriet, 2010), and 55 per cent of all municipalities have established a voluntary council, which functions as a bridge between the municipality and the local voluntary organisations. Voluntary organisations are represented in the voluntary council, and the voluntary council recommends to the municipality what type of activity should be supported according to paragraph 18 of the Social Service Act. However, no programmes targeting older volunteers exist so far.

In 1992 a national Centre for Voluntary Social Work was established with financial support from the welfare state. Its aim is to collect and spread information about voluntary work and to encourage the setting up of public–private partnerships to combat social problems (Henriksen et al, 2012).

Older people between employment and volunteering

Employment rates for older workers, that is, those aged 55-64, are rather high in Denmark. According to Eurostat the employment rate of older males in 2011 was 63.8 and 55.3 among older females. The high participation rates tie in with a very strong work orientation in Denmark, as 71.6 per cent of people aged 50-65 ‘strongly agree’ or ‘agree’ with the following statement: ‘I would enjoy having a paid job even if I did not need the money’ (ISSP, 1997).

In Denmark labour market participation clearly has an impact on the disposition to do voluntary work. Adults in paid employment volunteer more than those outside the labour market (Koch-Nielsen et al, 2005; Fridberg et al, 2006, p 55), the main reason most probably being that engagement with the corporate world increases the number of social contacts and opportunities for networking. It thus seems that integration into the labour market entails a form of social (p.83) integration that is conducive to voluntary work. What adds to this picture is that employers in recent years have increasingly established formal employee volunteer programmes as an integrated part of their emerging social responsibility initiatives. In a voluntary work perspective, however, labour force participation is most probably less important for women than men as a bridge to the voluntary sector. At least gender differences in the frequency of voluntary work decrease with age (Leeson, 2005, Table 1.14).

Voluntary work decreases with age as people outside the labour market may not have the same opportunities for volunteering as those who are professionally active. This does not mean, however, that people outside the labour market are excluded from voluntary work. For instance, voluntary early retirees (that is, people retiring before the pensionable age of 65) are very active as volunteers in the ‘social’ sector.

Older people between family care and volunteering

Principi et al (2012; see also Chapter Two, this volume) have argued that there might be a relationship between family caregiving and formal volunteering, implying that older adults' involvement in care provision for grandchildren, a parent or partner might reduce their participation in civil society organisations. The question is, however, whether this hypotheses is valid for Denmark, since Denmark can be characterised as a ‘public care’ society, where informal care plays a minor role in comparison with other European countries.

The welfare state assumes responsibility for frail older people in the form of home help or residential care, and coverage of public elder care is high. Relative to the population aged 65+, 25 per cent received home help and 5 per cent institutional care in 2007 (Huber et al, 2009). In 2001 total public expenditure on old-age benefits in kind amounted to 1.75 per cent of GDP, and the elder care sector functions as a formal employment ‘machine’. In 2005 about 100,000 people (about 3.7 per cent of total employment) were employed full time in this sector (Jensen and Rathlev, 2009). This high coverage of elder care in Denmark ties in with specific cultural orientations towards eldercare. A total of 75.4 per cent of the population think that a parent should move into an old people's home, or receive appropriate home help in the parent's own home, if the parent can no longer manage to live on his or her own, whereas only 8.9 per cent think that ‘I or one of my brothers or sisters should invite my father or mother to live with one of us’ (Eurobarometer, 1998).

(p.84) The extent of informal or intergenerational childcare is also modest. In 2006, 63.2 per cent of all children aged 0-2 and 96 per cent of all children aged 3-5 were enrolled in daycare institutions (Danmarks Statistik, 2007). Opening hours in daycare institutions allow mothers to work on a full-time basis. In 1996, 75 per cent of all mothers with children aged 0-6 worked full time, that is, more than 36 hours a week (Christoffersen, 1997). So there is no need, as such, for grandparents to take care of their grandchildren. In effect, only a small fraction of child or elder care is provided in private households on an informal or unpaid basis, which seems to indicate that care does not constrain choice in relation to voluntary activities in Denmark; rather, the contrary may be true. As will be shown in the next section (see Table 4.4), an ‘Interest in the situation of a relative’ may actually help promote volunteering.

Improving the match between supply of older candidates with the demand of voluntary organisations: future perspectives

Most third sector organisations are highly dependent on volunteers, and about 20 per cent of all voluntary organisations in Denmark find it difficult to recruit volunteer workers (Ibsen, 2006, p 87), while at the individual level voluntary work is often considered something desirable, as it fosters personal identity, and leads to social integration and individual self-fulfilment (see, for example, Principi et al, 2012). It is therefore relevant to reflect on which measures and initiatives can be implemented by civil society organisations and policy makers to improve the match between supply and demand for older volunteers. Nevertheless, considerations as to how to improve this match are unfortunately lacking in Denmark, although such considerations may be on the verge of emerging. The government announced in its ‘Denmark 2020’ programme from 2010 that it intended to strengthen voluntary organisations, but so far no proposals have been initiated. Such reflections, however, may have their point of departure in questions such as: why do people provide voluntary work? How are volunteers recruited? Are the types of voluntary work in demand in accordance with older adults' wishes and aspirations? Is voluntary work considered meaningful?

Personal ideals and a wish to help others is the main driving force behind enrolment in the voluntary sector (Habermann, 2001), while time constraints are the major barrier to engagement (Fridberg et al, 2006, p 70). Therefore, it may not, as suggested by several authors (p.85) (see, for example, Zedlewski and Schaner, 2005; Martinson and Minkler, 2006; O'Neill, 2006), help to introduce economic support for voluntary workers in order to increase their inclination to volunteer. Rather, the contrary effect may result –economic support for volunteers could encourage processes of professionalisation in voluntary organisations, which in turn may make it even harder to recruit new segments of older volunteers (cf Horch, 1994, p 223). In Denmark people are more willing to engage in voluntary work if they feel that they are needed.

Table 4.4 shows how older adults have actually been recruited into volunteer work. As can be seen, older adults are primarily recruited into volunteer work through personal requests or word-of-mouth recommendations: 69 per cent of all volunteers aged 66+ have volunteered for this reason. It would seem to indicate that the volume of voluntary work increases when those already volunteering function as active ambassadors in the promotion of voluntary work. It is, on the other hand, less likely, as posited by Thompson and Wilson (2001), that recruitment campaigns in the form of newspaper advertisements and the like will recruit many additional voluntary workers –only a very small fraction of older voluntary workers volunteered in response to advertisements for unpaid voluntary work.

Older adults are less educated than younger people, which may have an unavoidable structural impact on the propensity of older adults to volunteer. In addition, older adults orient themselves towards different types of voluntary work than younger people, as the former are disposed towards philanthropic or charity-like forms of voluntary work in the ‘social/health’ sector, that is, types of voluntary work that

Table 4.4: Factors that initiated older adults volunteering, 2004 (%)

50-65

66+

Had a wish to engage in a social community

11

13

Had some extra spare time

6

14

Existing membership in the organisation concerned

18

17

Resulted from a job/profession/education

7

3

Interest in the situation of a relative

50

37

It was necessary –somebody had to do something

16

16

Had to react to unfairness

4

1

TV programme, newspaper article about voluntary work

1

3

Advertisements for unpaid voluntary work

2

6

Was personally requested/elected

62

69

Source: Leeson (2005)

(p.86) tend to be crowded out by the welfare state. However, discrepancies between orientations and opportunities do not create a meaningless image of volunteering among older adults: 68 per cent of males and 65 per cent of females aged 75-79 disagree with the following statement: ‘In Denmark it is not necessary to volunteer’ (Leeson, 2005, p 62). Thus, the major challenge is to encourage more actively older adults to engage in voluntary work by word-of-mouth practices.

Conclusions

The Danish social democratic welfare regime, with its high social welfare spending, demonstrates that a highly developed welfare state does not necessarily crowd out civic engagement, mutual trust and voluntary work. The voluntary sector in Denmark is quite large and activity levels are high. One may actually speak of a specific Danish welfare mix composed of a strong welfare state and a strong civil society, in which the role of voluntary organisations is to organise all sorts of cultural and leisure activities. About 35 per cent of the Danish population is enrolled in unpaid voluntary work. Still, a relative small proportion of all volunteers are older people, as only about 15 per cent of all volunteers in Denmark are aged 66-85. This may be due to some discrepancies between the demand and supply of voluntary work.

At the micro level, the typical older volunteer is a ‘younger’ senior with good health and oriented towards traditional charity giving based on altruistic motivations; older volunteers are especially active in sectors such as ‘social/health’, ‘housing, local community’ and similar areas. Unfortunately, however, the demand for voluntary work at the organisational or meso level is primarily centred round sectors such as sport, culture and similar activities, where young people in particular with self-centred or self-expressive motivations are active. In the past, the welfare state at the macro level has done little to increase the demand for older volunteers. Over the last 30 years, however, social policy has taken on new directions. More emphasis has been put on the role of voluntary social work within the area of traditional social policy, primarily with the aim of helping the most marginalised groups that find it difficult to enrol in the formal welfare state apparatus. This may, in turn, increase the demand for older volunteers in sectors such as ‘social/health’ in the future. But this will not necessarily be the case, since work in ‘social/health’ organisations is, to a large extent, carried out as full-time paid work.

The enrolment of older people into voluntary work does not collide with labour market activity: the employment rate for older people (p.87) aged 55-64 is relatively high, while it is very low for people aged 65+ when volunteering rates also decrease. Neither does voluntary work collide with care obligations towards grandchildren or frail elder parents or relatives, since coverage of child and elder care institutions in Denmark is very high, which ties in with cultural perceptions of care being a public issue. Major barriers to voluntary work for older people are that the demand for volunteer work is outside the domain of traditional charity giving, and that it often requires networking, as older volunteers are mainly recruited through word-of-mouth practices.

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Notes:

(1) This figure originates form a survey carried out in 2004, and it shows that 35 per cent of the Danish population has carried out voluntary work within the last year, while only 26 per cent has carried out voluntary work within the last month.