Doing good, feeling good: Causal Evidence from Canadian Volunteers

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Speaker: Rose Anne Devlin

Date: November 10th

Time: 10 AM – 12 PM

Location: Health Sciences Building (155 College Street, Toronto ON), Room HS 108


A literature suggests that volunteers are healthier and happier than their non-volunteering counterparts. But this ‘observation’ is fraught with problems of endogeneity. Some papers have addressed the endogeneity problem with an instrumental variable technique; mostly relying on measures of ‘religiosity’ as instruments. No studies of such nature have been conducted in Canada. We rely on a novel instrument and use data from Canadian General Social Surveys to fill this gap. We instrument volunteers by a measure of physical access to charitable organizations around an individual’s place of residence. Employing a conditional mixed process (CMP) model, we find that volunteering is a robustly significant predictor of health, and it positively affects life satisfaction for female and middle-aged individuals.

Rose Anne Devlin is a professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa where, during her 26 year tenure she has served in various administrative capacities. Her research spans a broad array of topics, weaved together by her interest in applied public policy. Health economics has been one of her main passions over the last fifteen years, having supervised and published widely in that area, with papers in the Journal of Health Economics, Health Economics, Social Science and Medicine. She has researched extensively on the economics of philanthropy, publishing this work in, the Journal of Public Economics, National Tax Journal and the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.

Health and Happiness Draft Paper