Transitions Into and Out of Voluntary Work Over the Life Course: What is the Effect of Major Life Events?

Jacobien Niebuur*, Aart C. Liefbroer, Nardi Steverink, Nynke Smidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of the current study is to investigate which major life events are associated with transitions into and out of volunteering over the life course and, especially, why these associations exist. Social Production Function theory is used to derive hypotheses, which are tested using longitudinal data (adult subsample) from Lifelines. Associations between major life events and (a) volunteer take-up, nonvolunteer sample (N = 59,773) and (b) volunteer cessation, volunteer sample (N = 32,143) are studied by applying Linear Probability Modeling. Results show clear associations between specific major life events and starting and quitting volunteering. The influence on the latter is stronger than on the former. Most findings are in line with our theory-based expectations indicating that (a) voluntary work contributes especially to the fulfillment of the needs for status, stimulation, and behavioral confirmation and (2) life events causing losses (gains) in these needs are associated with a higher likelihood to take-up (quit) volunteering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1256
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

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