Civic Engagement in Times of Rising Inequality: How Socioeconomic Inequality Affects Charitable Giving, Volunteering and Nonprofit Membership

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


Rising socio-economic inequality in many countries raises the question of how inequality affects individuals’ civic engagement in the forms of charitable giving, volunteering and non-profit membership. Though a growing body of multidisciplinary literature has started to address this issue, empirical results and the theories applied to explain this relationship vary considerably. We thus conduct a systematic literature review to (a) provide a synopsis of empirical findings and (b) identify theoretical explanations and corresponding mediating mechanisms behind this relationship. Reviewing 70 articles, we find that higher inequality is most often negatively related to civic engagement, and that this effect is moderated by individual factors, for example income and education. We further disentangle the theoretical explanations, such as social integration and conflict theory, and discuss the respective underlying mechanisms at the individual level (e.g. generalized social trust). To conclude our analysis, we conceptualize the mechanisms in a comprehensive framework for this relationship.
Period21 Nov 201923 Nov 2019
Event title48th Annual ARNOVA Conference
Event typeUnknown
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 509012 Social policy
  • 502023 NPO research