Volunteerism during the Transition to Adulthood: A Life Course Perspective

Sabrina Oesterle, Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, Jeylan T. Mortimer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


This panel study examines whether educational, work, and family roles promote volunteerism during late adolescence and early adulthood, as they do later in adulthood. The findings reveal substantial continuity in volunteerism from adolescence through the transition to adulthood and highlight the importance of values expressed in adolescence for volunteerism in the years following. Controlling these processes, attending school during this life stage promotes volunteerism. In contrast, full-time work investments in the early life course are found to hinder volunteer participation, as does the presence of young children in the family, especially at earlier parental ages. The results support a life course perspective for understanding civic participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1123-1149
Number of pages27
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
" The Youth Development Study is supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD44138) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH42843). Part of this research was conducted while Oesterle and Johnson were postdoctoral fellows at the Carolina Population Center, University ofNorth Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institute ofHealth (P01-HD31921). A previous version ofthis article was presented at the 1998 annual meeting ofthe American SociologicalAssociation, San Francisco. The authors would like to thank Scott Stoner-Eby, Kim Shuey, and Andrea Willson for valuable comments on an earlier draft ofthis article.Direct correspondence to Sabrina Oesterleat the Social Development Research Group, University of Washington, 9725 3rd Ave. NE, Suite 401, Seattle, WA 98115. E-mail: soe@u.washington. edu.


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