Volunteering predicts happiness among older Maori and non-Maori in the New Zealand Health, Work, and Retirement Longitudinal Study

Objectives: This study sought to understand the relationship between volunteer activity and happiness among a sample of older adult New Zealanders. It specifically sought to determine if ethnicity (Maori vs. non-Maori) and economic living standards functioned as moderators of the relationship between volunteering and happiness. 

Method: Data were garnered from the 2008 administration of the New Zealand Health, Work, and Retirement Longitudinal Study. Correlational and multiple regression procedures were employed to examine study hypotheses.

Results: Results from multiple regression analyses showed that the amount of volunteering per week was a unique predictor of overall level of happiness. Moderation analyses indicated that ethnicity did not function as a moderator of the relationship between volunteering and happiness, but economic living standards (ELS) did. Those with low ELS evidenced a stronger relationship between volunteering and happiness than those with high ELS. Results also indicated that Maori and those with low ELS volunteered more frequently than non-Maori and those with high ELS.

Conclusion: This study provides evidence that volunteering is related to increased happiness among older adults, irrespective of ethnicity. It also provides further evidence that the relationship between volunteering and happiness is moderated by economic resources. Older individuals at the low end of the economic spectrum likely benefit more from volunteering than those on the high end.

Keywords: Volunteering, Mood, Culture, Economic, Status

 




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