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Value of volunteering by older people equivalent to EU spend on defence

New research from think tank, the International Longevity Centre (ILC) has found that the value of caring and volunteering by older people across Europe is equivalent to EU spend on defence.

As a result, the ILC is calling on G20 Governments to better recognise the economic value of caring and volunteering

The report ‘Health Equals Wealth’, also highlights that people aged 65 and over, spend more time volunteering and caring than any other age group. Across Europe, these contributions average 124 hours per person, per year.

In the Netherlands, older people spend an average of 67 hours volunteering and 91 hours informally helping other households.

Whilst in India older adults spend 82 hours volunteering per year with Canada coming in at 80 hours on average

ILC note that, whilst time spent volunteering per person increases with age, the number of volunteers falls after the age of 65 in many countries – potentially due to worsening health.

In ‘Health Equals Wealth’, ILC urge G20 Governments to maximise the longevity dividend by spending more money on preventative health and prioritising health spending on disadvantaged populations.

David Sinclair. Director, ILC said:

We’ve become accustomed to our ageing population being presented as a bad thing.  Dangerous rhetoric painting older people as disposable has become far too common, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unpaid contributions from older people are strengthening communities and helping to support the formal economy.

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:

It is clear from ILC’s report, and other evidence, that people continue to contribute to society long after stopping work. Many older people make an enormous difference volunteering their time to help others.

It’s essential that as a country we invest in our health and care services to ensure that people in later life, who give back so much to our communities, are also given the support they need.

Photo: Joel Muniz on Unsplash