Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

Volunteerism is an unpaid productive activity that is exercised within a formal organization to benefit others that are not part of family or friends (Musick & Wilson, 2008). Alternatively, individuals could engage in informal helping which would be an activity undertaken outside a formal, structured organization. This paper addresses whether informal helping is also effective in reducing depression for older adults alongside volunteering. I hypothesize that informal helping is effective in reducing depression only when exercised for short durations. On the other hand, I hypothesize that volunteerism is only effective when exercised for long periods of time. I try to measure the impact of informal helping and volunteering on depression and compare the results depending on the number of hours that people spent informally helping or volunteering. The results show that volunteering in general reduces depression going forward, at least at higher levels of volunteering, while helping reduces depression only at lower levels.