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Health benefits found in volunteer work

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SWINDON, England, Sep 20, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- People who do volunteer work are happier, healthier and do better in school, a British study published Monday said.

Surveys of 101 randomly selected districts throughout Britain were taken by the Economic & Social Research Council in Swindon, and found another benefit to high-volunteer populations included a lower crime rate.

The research also tested for links between voluntary activity and overall life satisfaction or happiness. Again there was a strong link between communities with lots of volunteering and those where people are very satisfied with their lives.

"It seems that when we focus on the needs of others, we may also reap benefits ourselves," said Professor Paul Whiteley, Program Director of the ESRC Democracy & Participation Research Program. "It means that voluntary activity in the community is associated with better health, lower crime, improved educational performance and greater life satisfaction."

Government figures show that in 2003, 51 percent of people in England participated in their community, or about 20.3 million people. The equivalent contribution to the economy made by people volunteering formally and informally was around $75 billion in 2003, Home Office statistics said.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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