Norwegians keen on volunteering

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The spirit of volunteerism runs high in Norway, with 48 percent of the population participating in some sort of unpaid work. That’s down from earlier years, but still ranks highly compared to other countries.

State statistics bureau SSB estimates that the volunteer work performed in Norway amounts to the equivalent of nearly 115,000 full-time jobs and can be valued at NOK 22 billion. That’s bigger than Norway’s timber, hotel and restaurant and agricultural industries.

Researchers at Norway’s Institute for Social Research (Institutt for samfunnsforskning, ISF, external link) told newspaper Aftenposten recently that a small percentage of Norway’s volunteer force performs the lion’s share of the work. Most of them are highly educated and command high incomes, and offer at least two-and-a-half hours of their services for free every week on average.

The majority who volunteer now are motivated by their own special interests for a project, and a need for what the researchers called “self-realization.” The beneficiaries of their work are nonetheless grateful.

“We wouldn’t have had a chance of accomplishing what we have without our volunteers,” said the commander of the historic fortress Oscarsborg Festning in the Oslo Fjord, which is now open to the public and used for a variety of cultural and education events. He called the demand for volunteer workers “the acid test” for local support, and they are passing with high marks.

Views and News staff