Saturday, 2 March 2013

Unpaid Work Stats (Updated)

A statistic I have long wondered about is how many people volunteer for organisations in Otautau. StatisticsNZ had the answer. In the 2006 census, 111 Otautau people said they voluntarily work for a group, organisation or marae. The population was 753 in 2006, so that means that 14.74% of the population kept the emergency services, sports, culture, youth, heritage and many other facets of our community together. That's amazing. Such a small group of volunteers but the incredible work they do to make Otautau a better place. This is a little less than the national statistic which is 15.4%

Of course most of our unpaid time is spent working at home - cooking, cleaning, repairs, gardening. Second to that is time spent taking care of children who either live at home or don't, and then comes volunteer work with groups.

This next graph shows the national statistics of people who do other voluntary work such as for an organisation, group or marae, broken down by age and sex from the 2006 census. 

Reading Linda Graff's article on the baby boomer generation and volunteering got me wondering how her ideas might play out in Otautau. In 2006, the first year of baby boomers (BB), those born in 1946, were aged 60. This seems to correspond with the 60-64 age group being the biggest group of volunteers nationally, just edging out the 40-44 year-olds. 

Since the 2006 census, the first baby boomers have hit retirement age starting in 2011. According to the graph, age 65+ is a time when volunteering drops off. It will be interesting to see in the next census whether volunteer drop-off is occurring sooner as the BB generation looks for more personally fulfilling ways to spend their time than the usual maintenance roles (governance, fundraising etc) that are at the core of most volunteer organisations. Will we see a decline in both the 60-64 and 65+ age groups? Still, the sheer number of people in those age brackets might make up for any shortfall, and it might not be noticeable at the grassroots level. 

On the other hand, it may be that baby boomers will select volunteer jobs that meet a variety of needs such as being fun, making a difference, and enhancing their quality of life. This is a lot different from the 65+ generation of the past who tended to volunteer out of civic duty rather than personal gain. Unfortunately the 2013 census is not tracking the types of organisations or groups that people volunteer for, the jobs they take on or their motivations for volunteering. Now those would be interesting and useful statistics! I suspect there will be changes over time that result in the types of groups that survive and sustain themselves and those that don't. This could be the legacy of the BBs in the volunteer sector. Some organisations may crash and burn because they can't attract or retain BB members. We'll wait and see.

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