Citizens are increasingly being encouraged to take on new voluntary roles and responsibilities, such as, for example, looking after their local area and being involved in decision making. This move towards responsible citizenship is linked to the changing role of government, and the scaling down of the public services provided by the post war welfare state in many Western democracies.
In order to develop our understanding of why certain people are more likely to help than others in different circumstances, we examine people's expectations of help in return for helping at the individual, local, and national level. Our analysis suggests that across Europe younger people compared with older people are more likely to expect help in return for helping. Men are more likely than women to expect help in return for helping. In terms of helping values and behaviour, people who see helping others as important and also those who report helping other people in practice are less likely to expect help in return. There are also considerable differences between countries in reported rates of expecting help in return for helping. The perceived local context of help is important, such that people are more likely to expect help in return for helping where their perception of people helping each other in the local area is low. Policies aimed at encouraging citizens to take on new responsibilities need to take account of how citizens view their reciprocal relationships with fellow citizens as well as the local context and the state infrastructure.
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.