Measuring the Impossible? - Making a start - Exploring the impact of youth volunteering through existing longitudinal research data

David Kerr, Joana Lopes, Julie Nelson

23 May 2011

v, The National Young Volunteers’ Service, commissioned NFER to undertake a study of the long-term impacts of youth volunteering based on a preliminary exploration of data from two existing longitudinal datasets - the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS) (11 to 18 year olds) and the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) (16 to 25 year olds) - now renamed Understanding Society. The study aimed to enhance the knowledge base for volunteering, and to facilitate greater discussion among policy-makers, researchers and practitioners about how to take this forward. Its findings and recommendations are relevant in the context of the coalition Government’s ‘Big Society’ vision for greater civic and community involvement in society.

Download the executive summary

Key Findings

Conclusions made by the study include:

  • significant proportions of young people between the ages of 16 and 25 (almost sixty per cent) do not become involved in youth volunteering
  • youth volunteering is associated with positive outcomes in the social/political and economic spheres later in life, particularly with regards to obtaining a higher education qualification.

Recommendations leading from the conclusions include:

  • the further exploration of existing longitudinal datasets and exploration of other longitudinal datasets
  • using the outcomes to sharpen the nature of questions concerning youth volunteering in longitudinal studies
  • promoting and publicising the findings from this report to stimulate further discussion and to maintain momentum