Social Networks as a Factor in Volunteering Among Elderly Japanese with Lower Socioeconomic Status

Abstract

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>We investigated the effect of social networks on volunteering, which is known to be beneficial for people and society, among elderly Japanese of lower socioeconomic status. Western studies have demonstrated that social networks boost volunteering among wealthy people because of the norm that they should help the less fortunate. However, wealthy East Asians do not share this norm. Therefore, socioeconomic variables and volunteering tend not to be significantly related in Japan. We hypothesized that social networks would be more important to volunteering among the Japanese elderly, especially among people of a lower socioeconomic status. A total of 768 respondents (319 men, 432 women, 17 sex unspecified; <jats:italic>M</jats:italic><jats:sub>age</jats:sub> = 73.99 years, <jats:italic>SD</jats:italic> = 7.40 years) completed the survey. The results indicated that social networks were positively related to volunteering only among people with lower financial status. This result suggests that social networks can increase opportunities and help less advantaged elderly people to reap the benefits of volunteering.</jats:p>

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