Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4441.0.55.002 - A Comparison of Volunteering Rates from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and the 2006 General Social Survey, Jun 2012  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/06/2012  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

4. DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS

The following descriptive analysis compares the profile of volunteers between the Census and GSS, including rates of volunteering by selected demographics. In Section 4.1 potential variables for describing the profile of volunteers are outlined. In Section 4.2 the profile of volunteers from the two collections are examined and compared to the general population. Finally in Section 4.3 the volunteering rate is presented along with the rate ratio between the two data sources for various socio-demographic characteristics.

For the following analyses, records with any missing values on variables of interest were removed and Census was restricted to the population common to the GSS. This allowed for consistency in analyses throughout the paper. Because records with missing values on any variable of interest were removed, the estimates in this paper may not match those published in other ABS publications.

4.1 SELECTION OF VARIABLES

Variables were selected that were identified in the literature as correlating with volunteerism and were available in both collections. As a result, the analysis did not include religion or church participation. Country of birth was not included in the analysis because language proficiency was highly correlated with country of birth so only language proficiency was used.

Groupings within variables were selected to enable comparison of differences between the two collections. For example, four age group categories were used to provide a generational view and look at people in stages of the life course. The four categories selected were people aged: 18-29 years; 30-39 years; 40-59 years; and 60 years and over. Research shows that members of different generations differ from each other in attitudinal, educational and behavioural characteristics (ABS, 2005; ABS, 2009a; Gainsford, 2005). Members of younger generations are often highly educated, and people aged 18-29 in 2006 were more likely than other generations to have started adult life with credit cards and mobile phones. While each generation shares certain characteristics, it should be acknowledged that within each generation a great deal of variety occurs.

Respondents’ family composition was categorised into three categories-families with children aged under 15 years; families with dependent children aged 15-24 years; and families with no dependent children. The literature on volunteering suggests that a person from a family which has at least one dependent child is more likely to volunteer than a person who lives with a family where there are no dependent children. For this reason, single people, and people living in group houses were included in the ‘family with no dependent children’ category.

The proficiency in spoken English variable refers to the main language spoken at home. For those whose main language spoken at home wass English, they are in the category ‘English only’. For those who spoke a different main language at home, they are in the groups ‘Speaks English well or very well’ or ‘Speaks English not well or not at all’.

The highest educational attainment variable has been coded into three categories for the purposes of this analysis. These three education categories are: those with Advanced Diploma/Diploma or above (e.g. Advanced Diploma, Bachelor Degree etc.), those with Year 12 or Certificate III/IV, and those with Year 11 or below (Certificates I/II and Certificates not further defined are included in Year 11 or below).

Four employment categories were used. The categories used in this analysis separate those employed full-time, those employed part-time, those who were unemployed and those not in the labour force. In this analysis of volunteering, we analysed the incidence of volunteering, not the frequency or the duration of volunteering. Some of the effects of employment status might have had a different result if frequency or duration of volunteering could be used as opposed to the simple incidence rate. For example, those with more time available, such as those who are not in the labour force may volunteer for more hours than those who are employed.

4.2 PROFILE OF VOLUNTEERS

Overall, the profile of volunteers by selected socio-demographic characteristics from the two collections shows some differences in their characteristics, albeit relatively small (table 4.1). Comparing the characteristics of volunteers from the GSS and Census, we see that a greater proportion of volunteers were female in the Census than in the GSS (57.2% compared with 53.9%). These proportions were higher than the proportion of the Australian population that was female (51.2%) indicating that females were more likely to volunteer than males.

Volunteers were only slightly different in their age structure between the two collections. There were higher proportions of volunteers who were in the middle age groups in the GSS and higher proportions of volunteers in the older age groups in the Census.

4.1 PROFILE OF VOLUNTEERS, 2006 GSS AND 2006 CENSUS(a)

Volunteers (%)
All people (%)


Characteristics of persons
2006 GSS(b)
2006 Census
2006 GSS(b)
2006 Census

All persons aged 18 and over
Sex
Male
46.1
(44.5-47.6)
42.8
49.3
(49.2-49.4)
48.8
Female
53.9
(52.4-55.5)
57.2
50.7
(50.6-50.8)
51.2
Age group
18-29 years
18.5
(17.5-19.5)
15.8
21.6
(21.5-21.7)
21.2
30-39 years
21.2
(19.9-22.4)
18.5
19.2
(19.1-19.3)
20.0
40-59 years
41.5
(39.7-43.3)
43.9
36.4
(36.4-36.5)
37.8
60 years and over
18.8
(17.7-19.9)
21.9
22.8
(22.7-22.9)
20.9
Family composition
Family with children aged under 15 years
38.8
(36.6-41.1)
34.8
29.3
(28.2-30.3)
30.1
Family with dependent children aged 15-24 years
8.9
(7.7-10.2)
9.2
8.2
(7.5-8.9)
8.4
Family with no dependent children
52.3
(49.8-54.7)
56.0
62.6
(61.5-63.6)
61.6
Social marital status (c)
Married
70.1
(68.2-71.9)
68.4
64.3
(63.4-65.2)
63.2
Not Married
29.9
(28.1-31.8)
31.6
35.7
(34.8-36.6)
36.8
Proficiency in spoken English at home
Speaks English only
87.9
(86.3-89.5)
89.8
83.6
(82.4-84.8)
82.3
Speaks English well or very well
10.8
(9.3-12.2)
9.5
13.2
(12.2-14.1)
14.7
Speaks English not well or not at all
1.4
(0.9-1.8)
0.8
3.2
(2.7-3.7)
3.1
Highest level of educational attainment
Advanced Diploma/Diploma or above
38.2
(36.2-40.2)
40.7
29.1
(27.7-30.6)
28.2
Year 12 or Certificate III/IV
34.0
(32.2-35.8)
32.4
33.9
(32.4-35.3)
36.4
Year 11 or below
27.8
(26.5-29.1)
26.8
37.0
(36.1-37.9)
35.4
Labour force status
Employed full-time
46.4
(44.6-48.1)
42.5
46.9
(45.6-48.1)
46.9
Employed part-time
24.0
(22.1-25.9)
23.3
18.7
(17.7-19.7)
18.5
Unemployed
2.4
(1.7-3.1)
3.6
3.1
(2.6-3.6)
3.3
Not in the Labour force
27.3
(25.8-28.8)
30.6
31.3
(30.3-32.4)
31.3
Part of State
Capital city
60.8
(58.9-62.6)
58.6
64.8
(64.6-65.0)
65.6
Rest of the State
39.2
(37.4-41.1)
41.4
35.2
(35.0-35.4)
34.4

(a) GSS and Census estimates presented in this table are for people aged 18 years and over living in private dwellings, in non-very remote areas, with a stated voluntary work status and no missing values.
(b) Includes the 95% confidence interval in brackets. There is a 95% chance that the true population lies within this range.
(c) For social marital status, married includes registered marriages and defacto relationships where the couples live together, and not married includes all other situations.

The Census showed proportionally more volunteers were outside the capital cities compared with the GSS collection (41.4% compared with 39.2%). Both were greater than the proportion of the total population outside capital cities (34.4%). The Census also showed large differences across highest level of educational attainment, with a high proportion of volunteers having Advanced Diploma/Diploma qualifications or above. This was expected as educational attainment has been shown to be a positive predictor of volunteering (Evans and Kelly, 2000).

There were differences between volunteer profiles and the population profile, with the profile of volunteers including a higher proportion of people with high educational attainment, who are married (registered or social) and who are in a family with children under 15 years.

4.3 VOLUNTEER RATE

Rates of volunteering by selected social and demographic characteristics are presented in table 4.2. The measure of volunteering obtained from 2006 GSS (34.2%) was 1.7 times that measured in the 2006 Census (20.1%). This is displayed in the rate ratio column of table 4.2. As discussed previously, differences in collection methodology, particularly the impact of proxy reporting, the use of prompting techniques and multiple questions, may impact greatly on the discrepancy between these two measures of volunteering.

Table 4.2 shows that volunteer rates in the Census were consistently 1.5 to 2 times lower than the GSS across the range of socio-demographics. Exceptions to this are where people spoke English well or very well (2.1), or not well or not at all (2.9); those aged 60 years and over (1.3); and those who were unemployed (the rate was not significantly different from the Census rate).

In both collections, participation in voluntary work was associated with education level and employment status. People with Advanced Diploma/Diploma or above reported a higher rate of volunteering than people with Year 12 or Certificate III/IV qualifications. Likewise, people with Year 12 or Certificate III/IV qualifications reported a higher rate of volunteering than those with Year 11 or below. Those who were employed part-time reported the highest rates of volunteering across employment status.

Proportionally fewer people from capital cities reported volunteering compared with people who lived outside the capital cities.

4.2 VOLUNTEER RATE, SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS(a) - 2006 GSS AND 2006 CENSUS

Volunteer Rate (%
)

Characteristics of persons
2006 GSS(b)
2006 Census
Rate ratio

All persons aged 18 and over
34.2
(32.8-35.5)
20.1
1.7
Sex
Male
32.0
(30.7-33.3)
17.7
1.8
Female
36.3
(34.3-38.4)
22.5
1.6
Age group
18-29 years
29.3
(26.9-31.6)
14.9
2.0
30-39 years
37.7
(34.7-40.7)
18.5
2.0
40-59 years
38.9
(37.2-40.6)
23.2
1.7
60 years and over
28.2
(26.3-30.2)
21.4
1.3
Family composition
Family with children aged under 15 years
45.4
(43.1-47.6)
23.2
2.0
Family with dependent children aged 15-24 years
37.3
(33.5-41.1)
22.1
1.7
Family with no dependent children
28.5
(26.7-30.3)
18.3
1.6
Social marital status (c)
Married
37.2
(35.5-38.9)
21.7
1.7
Not Married
28.7
(26.6-30.7)
17.4
1.6
Proficiency in spoken English at home
Speaks English only
35.9
(34.3-37.5)
21.9
1.6
Speaks English well or very well
27.9
(24.5-31.3)
13.1
2.1
Speaks English not well or not at all
14.5
(10.2-18.7)
5.1
2.9
Highest level of educational attainment
Advanced Diploma/Diploma or above
44.8
(42.6-47.0)
28.7
1.6
Year 12 or Certificate III/IV
34.3
(32.7-35.9)
17.9
1.9
Year 11 or below
25.7
(24.0-27.3)
15.4
1.7
Labour force status
Employed full-time
33.8
(31.7-35.8)
18.1
1.9
Employed part-time
43.8
(41.0-46.6)
25.1
1.7
Unemployed
26.3
(18.8-33.7)
22.1
1.2
Not in the Labour force
29.8
(28.3-31.2)
20.0
1.5
Part of State
Capital city
32.0
(30.7-33.4)
18.0
1.8
Rest of the State
38.1
(35.4-40.8)
24.2
1.6

(a) GSS and Census estimates presented in this table are for people aged 18 years and over living in private dwellings, in non-very remote areas, with a stated voluntary work status and no missing values.
(b) Includes the 95% confidence interval in brackets. There is a 95% chance that the true population lies within this range.
(c) For social marital status, married includes registered marriages and defacto relationships where the couples live together, and not married includes all other situations.

The rate ratio between the GSS and Census was relatively low for the oldest age group (1.3), which could be due to some of the issues described in Section 3. For example, a high proportion of people in the oldest age category live in single, or two person households and are therefore likely to have lower rates of proxy reporting. It could also be that people in the oldest age group have a lower rate ratio due to them having a greater proportion of non-respondents who are less likely to volunteer (Hall et al., 2006).

Looking at the rate ratios, it can be seen that for many characteristics, the GSS volunteer rate is 1.5 to 2 times that of the Census rate. This reflects the ratio of 1.7 found for the overall volunteer rate. This result indicates that, in general, the estimates from the Census were consistently lower for all socio-demographic characteristics compared with those from the GSS.

It appears that English language proficiency has a large impact on reporting voluntary work activities in the Census relative to the GSS. The rate ratio was higher for all people who speak a main language other than English at home, but was particularly high for people who speak English not well or not at all (with the highest rate ratio as 2.9). Some explanations for this may include the use of a translator (trained interviewer or family member) in GSS, the usefulness of more prompting in conveying voluntary work, and a higher non-response rate to the question on voluntary work on the Census (3.6% for people who speak English not well or not at all compared with 3.0% for people who speak English very well or well and 2.1% for people who speak English only). The rate ratio was lowest for those who were unemployed (GSS rate not significantly different from the Census rate), people not in the labour force (1.5) and people aged 60 years and over (1.3).

Table 4.3 presents rates of volunteering by state and territory as well as state and territory by capital city and rest of state.

The state and territory rates for GSS show that the volunteering rate was consistently between 1.4 to 1.9 times greater in GSS than Census. Exceptions to this were South Australia rest of state (1.1 times) and for Perth (2.1 times), although the rate for South Australia was not significantly different between the GSS and Census.

The Census also showed lower rates of volunteering in each capital city than the GSS, between 1.5 (South Australia) and 2.1 (Western Australia) times. The rates for the rest of State were also lower than the GSS, ranging from 1.4 (Northern Territory) to 1.8 (Queensland) times. The exception to this was the rest of State for South Australia for which the rates were not significantly different between collections.
4.3 VOLUNTEER RATE, STATE OR TERRITORY BY PART OF STATE(a) - 2006 GSS AND 2006 CENSUS

Volunteer Rate (%)

Characteristics of persons
2006 GSS(b)
2006 Census
Rate ratio

State/Territory
New South Wales
32.8
(30.1-35.5)
19.2
1.7
Victoria
32.6
(30.0-35.3)
20.0
1.6
Queensland
37.8
(35.0-40.5)
20.6
1.8
South Australia
31.5
(28.5-34.4)
22.6
1.4
Western Australia
36.6
(33.0-40.3)
19.0
1.9
Tasmania
36.0
(33.4-38.7)
22.6
1.6
Northern Territory
35.8
(33.0-38.6)
21.9
1.6
Australian Capital Territory
38.5
(36.1-40.8)
24.0
1.6
State/Territory by Part of State
New South Wales
Capital city
30.2
(26.8-33.5)
16.8
1.8
Rest of State
37.3
(32.7-41.9)
23.5
1.6
Victoria
Capital city
29.5
(26.9-32.1)
17.5
1.7
Rest of State
41.1
(35.6-46.6)
27.3
1.5
Queensland
Capital city
37.8
(34.0-41.7)
19.7
1.9
Rest of State
37.7
(33.7-41.8)
21.5
1.8
South Australia
Capital city
30.5
(27.3-33.7)
19.7
1.5
Rest of State
34.6
(27.5-41.7)
31.4
1.1
Western Australia
Capital city
36.0
(32.0-39.9)
17.1
2.1
Rest of State
38.7
(32.9-44.6)
25.8
1.5
Tasmania
Capital city
34.2
(30.1-38.2)
21.8
1.6
Rest of State
37.4
(33.0-41.9)
23.1
1.6
Northern Territory
Capital city
36.1
(33.2-39.0)
20.8
1.7
Rest of State (c)
35.3
(29.1-41.4)
24.7
1.4
Australian Capital Territory (d)
Capital city
38.5
(36.1-40.8)
24.0
1.6

(a) GSS and Census estimates presented in this table are for people aged 18 years and over living in private dwellings, in non-very remote areas, with a stated voluntary work status and no missing values.
(b) Includes the 95% confidence interval in brackets. There is a 95% chance that the true population lies within this range.
(c) Very remote and migratory locations are excluded from the analysis, which accounts for over 20% of persons in NT, all are from the Rest of State area.
(d) Rest of State information is not collected for ACT in the GSS

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.