Authors: Ailsa Henderson, Steven D. Brown and Mark Pancer
Published in February 2012 in Politics and Policy.
Abstract: In 1999, the Canadian province of Ontario joined a number of other jurisdictions in requiring its high school students to complete volunteer service before graduating. The primary objective of this program, and others like it around the world, was to address declining civic engagement within society. Using a quasi-experimental design, we explore the impact of mandatory volunteering on its stated aims. Our findings suggest that volunteering in high school has positive impacts on the political dimensions of a student’s subsequent civic engagement, measured here as political involvement, political activism, political interest, and political efficacy. However, those impacts are largely conditional on two features of the volunteering experience: sustained commitment to one placement and a positive experience as evaluated by the student. High school community service seems to be unrelated to social dimensions of civic engagement, measured here as involvement in a variety of social, cultural, and religious organizations.