Seoyoun Kim discusses health benefits of volunteering with Big Ideas TXST

Staff Reports

SAN MARCOS – Seoyoun Kim, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Texas State University, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast for May’s episode, discussing the surprising health benefits of volunteering.

Kim’s research indicates that that health benefits derived from volunteer work are greater for lower-income volunteers than for wealthier ones. In the U.S., approximately 29 million older adults volunteer through an organization annually, contributing 3 billion hours of service to the community at large.

Kim analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative U.S. study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration that surveys approximately 20,000 older adults every two years and accounts for income.

Using this data, her research team created a quasi-experimental study using statistical analyses to adjust for the fact that wealthier older adults were more likely to volunteer, among other factors, thereby reducing bias in their results.

Findings showed that in the full sample, volunteering enhanced self-reported health and reduced depressive symptoms for older adults in general. Significantly, those in the lowest wealth quintile experienced more gains in self-reported health from volunteering compared to their wealthy counterparts. Volunteering was associated with fewer depressive symptoms regardless of wealth status.

Big Ideas TXST is a monthly podcast from Texas State’s Division of University Advancement that goes inside the fascinating minds forging innovation, research and creativity at the university. Hosted by Daniel Seed, a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, each episode features thoughtful interviews and discussion with the thought leaders developing innovative ideas to make the world a better place.

Big Ideas TXST can be found at The podcast may also be listened to or subscribed to at:

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