Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

20P Volunteerism Among Older Adult Immigrants In the United States

Friday, January 13, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Heejung Jang, BA, MSW student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St.Louis, MO
PURPOSE: Leach (2008-2009) stated that the number of foreign born older adults who are 65 years and older has doubled from 2.7 million in 1990 to 4.3 million in 2006. In 2000, 10% of the older adult population were immigrants, but are projected to increase to 20% by 2050 (Treas & Batalova, 2007). However, volunteerism within immigrant populations is a neglected topic (Handy & Greenspan, 2009; Sundeen, Garcia, & Raskoff, 2009). Because many immigrants mostly depend on their informal social networks rather than formal support systems (Hernández-Plaza et al., 2006; Sundeen et al., 2009), it may cause difficulties in examining volunteering for this demographic. Nevertheless, studying this topic is especially important since the exclusion of volunteerism can be considered to cause disparities in the health and well being of certain groups (Tang, Morrow-Howell, & Hong, 2009). Therefore, this study aimed to examine how human, social and cultural capitals, along with other economic resources, are associated with volunteering among older adult immigrants. DESIGN and METHODS: Data were drawn from the 2009 Volunteer Supplement, Current Population Survey, with a sample of 4,536 who were 50 years of age and older; there were 587 volunteers. Older adult immigrants were determined by anyone who was born outside of the U.S. and had both parents born outside of the U.S. Dependent variables were volunteering experience (Yes/No) and volunteering intensity (annual hours). One logistic and two multiple regressions were completed to identify factors associated with volunteering, volunteer activities, and types of organizations. RESULTS: Human capital (education), social capital (participation of public affairs and neighborhood improvement) and cultural capital (donations) were positively associated with volunteering; however, these factors did not influence volunteering intensity related to activities and organizations. In organizations, medical and health institutions were negatively associated with volunteering compared to religious organizations. Tutoring/teaching, sports/artistic, religious, human service activities were positively associated with volunteering. Asian older adults and older adult immigrants who lived in the large cities had lower volunteer rates. Interestingly, older adults who had income less than $20,000 showed high volunteering intensity. IMPLICATIONS: Findings suggest that religious organizations play a pivotal role in strengthening older adult immigrants' volunteering. Connecting between ethnic religious organizations and communities such as schools, hospitals, and professional institutions would increase engagement of volunteering. Program facilitation (stipend, transportation costs, and meals) among civic/political, education/ youth, religious, hospital/health, social/community services organizations may enhance volunteer opportunities for those who had low income and lived in metropolitan areas.