Reciprocal Relationship Between Lifelong Learning and Volunteering Among Older Adults

Pildoo Sung*, Arthur Chia, Angelique Chan, Rahul Malhotra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Lifelong learning and volunteering contribute to not only health and well-being, but also social inclusion and cohesion among older adults. However, less is known about whether lifelong learning and volunteering promote each other. This study examined the reciprocal relationship between older adults' lifelong learning and volunteering and whether the relationship varied by the purpose of lifelong learning. 

Methods: Cross-lagged panel models were applied to data on 2,608 older adults, aged 60 years and older, from 2 waves of a national longitudinal study from Singapore. 

Results: We found a bidirectional relationship between lifelong learning and volunteering. However, when job-related and nonjob-related lifelong learning were considered separately, only nonjob-related lifelong learning predicted volunteering. On the other hand, volunteering predicted both job-related and nonjob-related lifelong learning. 

Discussion: Lifelong learning leads to volunteering, and vice versa, creating a virtuous circle of productive social engagement in later life. Programs or initiatives engaging older adults in either productive activity should promote and provide opportunities for participation in the other activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-912
Number of pages11
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cross-lagged panel models
  • Lifelong learning
  • Reciprocal relationship
  • Singapore
  • Volunteering


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