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Older Australians : involvement in civil society in the 1990s
journal contributionposted on 2006-01-01, 00:00 authored by Kenneth Reed, N McNeil, Betsy Blunsdon
As Australia’s population continues to age, questions about how older individuals use their time holds increasing interest and significance for scholars and policy makers. As individuals near the end of their paid working life, and family roles and responsibilities diminish, the type of activities that will fill this time void have important implications for the health and wellbeing of older Australians and for the strength of civil society. In Australia, there have been sustained moves at all levels of government to encourage the more active engagement in community services of this group of citizens, given the size and significant amount of human capital of this cohort. However, international research suggests that this enthusiasm has not translated into increased volunteer activity for seniors, and that older citizens tend to spend their expanding discretionary time pursuing leisure activities, such as watching television or listening to the radio (Robinson & Godbey 1997; Wilson & Musick 1997; Thoits & Hewitt 2001). This study builds on a broader interest in how people choose to utilise time across the life course and how the experience of ageing shapes such decisions. This aim of this paper is twofold – first, to investigate how older Australians allocated their time in the 1990s, and how these time use patterns changed over a 5-year period, using nationally representative, longitudinal data from two waves of the Australian Time Use Survey. Second, the time use characteristics of those individuals who devote more time to social participation activities are examined, to investigate trends in volunteering across age cohorts, with a focus on those above the age of fifty.