Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Public Spending and Volunteering: "The Big Society", Crowding Out, and Volunteering Capital.

Bartels, Koen and Cozzi, Guido and Mantovan, Noemi (2011): Public Spending and Volunteering: "The Big Society", Crowding Out, and Volunteering Capital.

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Abstract

The current British Government's "Big Society" plan is based on the idea that granting more freedom to local communities and volunteers will compensate for a withdrawal of public agencies and spending. This idea is grounded on a widely held belief about the relationship between government and volunteering: a high degree of government intervention will cause a crowding out of voluntary activity. Up to now, however, the crowding out hypothesis has hardly been supported by any empirical evidence or solid theoretical foundations. We develop a simple theoretical model to predict how fiscal policy affects the individual decision to volunteer or not. The predictions of the model are tested through the econometric analysis of two survey data sets, and interpretative analysis of narratives of local volunteers and public officials. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our results suggest that volunteering, by the individuals in the actively working population, declines when government intervention is decreased.

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