The proportion of the population aged 15 years and over who reported having done voluntary work for a group or organisation in the last four weeks, in the New Zealand General Social Survey 2008.
Voluntary work underpins a wide range of groups and organisations whose activities contribute to social wellbeing. In the fields of health, education, sports and recreation, social services, arts and culture, human rights, emergency services, the environment and conservation, animal welfare and community support and development, volunteers provide their time and skills to help others and to make a contribution. People also volunteer to meet others, to develop their skills and broaden their experience, to make contacts that may lead to employment, and to fulfil parental, social, cultural and religious obligations.
In 2008, one in three New Zealanders aged 15 years and over (33 percent) had done voluntary work for a group or organisation in the last four weeks.
Age and sex differences
Males and females were equally likely to report having done voluntary work for a group or organisation in the last four weeks.
Voluntary work was slightly more prevalent among older people, particularly for females. In 2008, females in age groups 45–64 years and 65 years and over (both 36 percent) were significantly more likely than females aged 15–24 years (24 percent) to have done voluntary work in the last four weeks. The rate for females aged 25–44 years was 32 percent. For males, the difference between younger and older age groups was less marked. Thirty percent of 15–24 year olds reported doing voluntary work in the last four weeks, as did 29 percent of 25–44 year olds, 37 percent of 45–64 year olds and 36 percent of people aged 65 years and over.
Figure SC6.1 Proportion of people aged 15 years and over who had done voluntary work in the last four weeks, by age group and sex, 2008
Source: Statistics New Zealand, New Zealand General Social Survey
Pacific peoples (42 percent) were significantly more likely than Asian people (28 percent) and people in the mainly European group (32 percent) to report doing voluntary work in the past four weeks. The rate for Māori was 34 percent. The difference between the rates for Māori and Pacific peoples was not statistically significant.
Socio-economic and family type differences
People with personal incomes of $70,000 or more (39 percent) were significantly more likely to report having done voluntary work than those with incomes of $30,000 or less (32 percent). There was little difference in volunteering by labour force status or family type.
Volunteering increased with educational level. Twenty-six percent of those with no qualifications did voluntary work in the last four weeks compared to 30 percent of those with a Level 1–4 certificate, 38 percent of people with a Level 5–6 diploma and 42 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification.
Across regions, the proportions of people who had done voluntary work ranged from 31 percent in Auckland and Canterbury to 39 percent in the rest of the South Island (outside Canterbury).
A 2006 survey of voluntary work in Australia found that 34 percent of the population aged 18 years and over had participated in voluntary work through an organisation or group in the last 12 months. While New Zealand had a similar proportion of adults aged 15 years and over volunteering in 2008 (33 percent), the period of recall was shorter (four weeks), so the two surveys are not directly comparable.109
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