Doing well by doing good. The relationship between formal volunteering and self-reported health and happiness

The Researchers: F. Borgonovi, from the London School of Economics

Published In: Social Science & Medicine, Vol. 66(11), pp.2321-2334, 2008


Do good, feel happier.


People say that doing good for others is good for you, too. But what, exactly, can charity do for you?

In this study, researchers looked at the volunteer habits of 29,000 people across 29 states. They found that “formal volunteers” (those from organizations and religious groups) reported greater health and happiness than non-volunteers. The more they volunteered, the greater their wellbeing.

Volunteering doesn’t appear to cause better health, per se (rather, healthy people may be more able to volunteer), but it does cause greater happiness. Interestingly, donating money didn’t have the same effect.

If you’re looking to make yourself (and others) happier, put your free time toward a worthy cause.  

Beauty connection

Volunteering can make you more attractive. In fact, people report a stronger preference for more altruistic mates. Altruism could be a sign that your partner will be a great parent (and a kind lover, too). Charity work can also produce a “helper’s high,” allowing you to bring more joy and generosity into your relationships. So, it’s safe to say—volunteering may be better for beauty than makeup!

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