Intangible activities: the prevalence of informal helping in Denmark

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


‘Informal helping’ is often associated with other types of prosocial behaviour such as formal voluntary work. Therefore, one could jump to the conclusion that it would be the same factors driving both types of activities. This article demonstrates that this is not the case. The study relies on a population survey on informal helping and volunteering in Denmark. The two contributions ofthis article are as follows: (1) it demonstrates that the sociodemographicindicators that are closely linked to formal volunteering are not related to informal helping in the same manner and (2) it demonstrates that it is necessary to separate the decision to help and the amount of hours that people help, a distinction that previous empirical studies on this topic fail toinclude. The results show that informal helping may not simply be compared to other instances of prosocial behaviour. In particular, the socio-demographic indicators that are closely linked to formal volunteering are not necessarily related to informal helping. Moreover, the results emphasize the need for including informal helping as an act of civic engagement, which ought not to beconfused with other forms of engagement within the civil society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Civil Society
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)380-393
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this