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Publication Detail
Relationships between Volunteering, Neighbourhood Deprivation and Mental Wellbeing across Four British Birth Cohorts: Evidence from 10 Years of the UK Household Longitudinal Study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
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  • Authors:
    Mak H, Coulter R, Fancourt D
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  • Publication date:
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  • Journal:
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
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  • Issue:
  • Status:
    Published online
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Volunteering is associated with greater mental, physical and social wellbeing. However, less is known about whether the health benefits of volunteering vary with two sets of factors known to shape population health and health-related behaviours: (1) age and birth cohort, and (2) place of residence. This study examined how these factors influence the relationship between volunteering and self-reported mental health using five waves of data from Understanding Society: The UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) enriched with information on neighbourhood deprivation (Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015). Two self-reported mental health and wellbeing outcomes were examined: mental distress (GHQ-12) and health-related quality of life (SF-12). The sample was stratified by cohort: pre-1945 (born before 1945), Baby Boomers (born 1945–1964), Gen X (born 1965–1979), and Millennials (born from 1980). Fixed-effects regressions revealed that volunteering was associated with reduced levels of mental distress and greater levels of health-related quality of life in older generations, but not amongst younger generations. No moderating effect of area deprivation was found. This study suggests that generational social attitudes and changes in how volunteering is portrayed and delivered could influence not only whether people volunteer, but also whether doing so bolsters health.
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