International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy
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International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

Sarah Harper, Kate Hamblin, Jaco Hoffman, Kenneth Howse and George Leeson

The International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy explores the challenges arising from the ageing of populations across the globe for government, policy makers, the private sector and civil society. It examines various national state approaches to welfare provisions for older people, and highlights alternatives based around the voluntary and third-party sector, families and private initiatives. The Handbook is highly relevant for academics interested in this critical issue, and offers important messages for policy makers and practitioners.
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Chapter 31: Demographic change and the role of older people in the voluntary sector

Karsten Hank and Marcel Erlinghagen


The European Commission announced that 2012 is the ‘European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’, thereby continuing previous support by the EU and its member states for projects aiming to promote elders’ active participation in civil society. Although formal volunteering is closely associated with other unpaid productive activities within and outside the family (such as informal volunteering or caring; cf. Choi et al., 2007; Hank and Stuck, 2008), it is often considered as the single most important contribution of elders to civil society (but see the critical discussion in Martinez et al., 2011). Against this background, the present chapter aims at providing a brief overview of patterns and determinants, policy issues and problems related to formal volunteering among older Europeans, supplemented by some information on the situation in the USA.

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