Does kindness lead to happiness? Voluntary activities and subjective well-being

Elisabetta Magnani, Rong Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates empirically the effects of voluntary activities on subjective well-being. After controlling for individual fixed effects, we show that volunteering significantly improves people's subjective well-being. The positive well-being effects of volunteering are highly heterogeneous, with larger impact at the lower end of the distribution of subjective well-being. Our dynamic analysis shows that the beneficial effects of volunteering are transitory. We find evidence of complete subjective well-being adaptation one year after volunteering. We show that more frequent socialisation, increasing satisfaction with feeling part of local community and rising satisfaction with neighbourhood living in are three channels for the contemporaneous positive linkage between volunteering and subjective well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • volunteering
  • subjective well-being
  • voluntary activities
  • Subjective well-being
  • Volunteering
  • Panel quantile regression with fixed effects


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