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Keywords:

  • civic engagement;
  • community;
  • homeownership;
  • social class;
  • social inequality;
  • volunteering

Previous research on volunteering finds significant differences by race and social class. We augment these findings by examining a largely ignored measure of social class: tenure status, the distinction between renters and homeowners. We test a theory that predicts people volunteer more if they have a “stake” in their community and we use the value of their home as a measure of the size of this stake, with renters having no stake at all, using data from the 2003 Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We find that although homeowners volunteer more than renters, the value of their home has no influence on their volunteer work. Length of residence in the neighborhood has a positive effect on volunteerism. Tenure status partially mediates the influence of race and family income on volunteering but not education.