Skip to main content
[Translate to English:]
[Translate to English:]
Institute of

LV Rural Studies


Special Analysis: Volunteering

Finneland Village Study
© Thünen-Institut/Michael Welling

Special analysis "Volunteering in different regional types" based on the German Survey on Volunteering (FWS) and the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP)

In order to identify the potential of voluntary engagement for local communities, a fundamental and systematic documentation of voluntary engagement in rural areas is needed. The research project contributes to this by evaluating secondary data (Socio-Economic Panel SOEP, German Survey on Volunteering FWS) and systematically recording voluntary engagement in rural areas. 

Background and Objective

The topic of "voluntary engagement" has been receiving considerable attention for some years now, not least because it has high potential for solving various problems in local self-organization. This is particularly true for rural areas. In recent decades, some of these areas have experienced in some cases severe dismantling of public infrastructure, migration of young people and an aging population. The hope is, that people who get involved locally with their community cushion problems in public services, (re)vitalize public life and help increase local social cohesion.

However, in order to assess how volunteering relates to the quality of life of people in rural areas, it is necessary at first to systematically record this engagement in rural areas. This has not yet been done.

Thus, empirically validated research regarding spatial and socio-demographic differences in volunteering, even over time, is still sparse. This special analysis contributes to documenting voluntary engagement in rural areas and to making developments visible, thus providing a solid basis for decisions on the promotion of voluntary engagement in rural areas.

In the Special Analysis of Voluntary Engagement (SA:FE), we evaluate representative survey data to trace the distribution and development of voluntary engagement in different regional types in Germany.  We pay particular attention to socio-demographic differences between regional types. The empirical findings on volunteering in rural areas presented in this evaluation can serve as a working and decision-making basis for the promotion of volunteering in rural areas as well as for further research in this area.


Quantitative analyses based on survey data (Socio-Economic Panel, German Survey on Volunteering) on volunteering in different regional types.

Our Research Questions

  • How does voluntary engagement change over time in the different regional types?
  • How does individual voluntary engagement of different socio-demographic groups differ within the different regional types (also over time)?
  • In which areas do young people in particular get involved in the different regional types?
  • Are there gender-specific differences concerning voluntary engagement?
  • What are common reasons for the termination of voluntary engagement or against getting involved in volunteering?

Funding Body

  • Deutsche Stiftung für Engagement und Ehrenamt (DSEE)
    (national, öffentlich)


10.2022 - 3.2023

More Information

Project funding number: DSEE.03.2022.00024
Project status: ongoing

Scroll to top