New Report: Civic Health in Hard Times

Posted by on August 31, 2009

Recession impacting civic engagement in US: report

As the recession drags on, many Americans are spending less time volunteering, participating in groups, or engaged in other civic activities in their communities, a new report from the National Conference on Citizenship has found.

Based on a survey of nearly 3,900 individuals, the report, America’s Civic Health Index 2009 found that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of survey respondents said they had cut back on the time they devote to civic participation, which includes time spent volunteering or performing other civic activities in their communities, and that low-income individuals (those making less than $50,000 a year) were more likely to help others by providing food or shelter than respondents with a higher income.,

Overall, 50 percent of survey participants said they had given food or money to someone who was not a relative, 17 percent said they had invited a relative to live in their home, and more than 10 percent had taken in a non-relative.

The report also found that religion and generational differences play major roles in civic engagement.

Forty percent of respondents who are frequent participants in religious services said they had increased their level of civic engagement.  And while baby boomers had the lowest volunteering rate (35 percent) and members of the Millennial generation had the highest (43 percent), boomers were far more likely (38 percent) to provide material contributions such as food, money, and shelter than Millennials (28 percent).

A second report, issued by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, indicated that despite the upward trend in youth volunteering, young adults with no college experience are half as likely to volunteer as their collegiate counterparts. Roughly 43 percent of the 20-to-29-year-old population has not attended college.

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