Socioeconomic Payoffs of Voluntary Association Involvement: A Dutch Life Course Study


Over the last three decades, research on occupational attainment has been extended with studies indicating the importance of social resources. We study socio-economic effects of voluntary association involvement, which is an important source of weak ties for getting a better job. First, we determine to what extent involvement causes better socio-economic outcomes. Second, we test whether specific voluntary associations provide larger socio-economic payoffs than others. We use life course data from the Family Survey of the Dutch Population 2000 to test our hypotheses. Because the timing of job changes and voluntary participation is known, we are able to test for socio-economic effects of involvement at the time of a job start while controlling for previous socio-economic characteristics. Consequently, the endogeneity problem from which much research in this field suffers has been overcome. Results show that members are more likely to start new jobs which are better in terms of status and earnings than those of non-members. Besides, volunteering is beneficial when entering the labour market for the first time. Furthermore, members of associations with more high status co-members are more likely to get a new job and these jobs are of higher status too. Hence, voluntary association involvement definitely pays off.

European Sociological Review, 25(4):425-442