MILLENNIALS AND PUBLIC SERVICE MOTIVATION: FINDINGS FROM A SURVEY OF MASTER’S DEGREE STUDENTS CHRISTOPHER EINOLF DePaul University
This paper used a sample of 194 students at public service graduate schools in the United States to compare Millennial students with Generation X students on public service motivation and its antecedents, prosocial behaviors, perceptions of the three sectors, and career plans. It found few differences between Millennial and Generation X students. Millennials reported higher levels of parental education and more volunteer work in college, but were less involved in religion and politics than older students. There were few differences in the generations’ opinions of the non-profit and public sectors. While scholars have found differences between Millennials and older generations in the general population, this survey shows that there are few differences between Generation X and Millennial students who choose to pursue a Master’s degree in a public service career. Graduate schools in public administration and nonprofit management play an important role in training the future leaders of the public and nonprofit sectors. As most students seek Master’s degrees when they are in their 20’s and 30’s, the population of students in graduate schools has changed over the last decade to include fewer members of “Generation X,” born between 1965 and 1979, and more members of the “Millennial” generation, born in 1980 and later. If these generations are markedly different in their public service motivation, the differences would have implications both for how graduate programs teach students and for the future of the nonprofit and public sectors. This paper seeks the answer to the following question: What differences exist between Millennials and Generation X graduate students in public service motivation and
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its antecedents, prosocial behaviors, perceptions of the three sectors, and career plans?
The findings of this paper come from a 2012 survey of 194 first-semester students in six public service graduate schools in the United States. The survey asked students about their parents, childhood and college experiences, and past service work. It evaluated them on a number of personality traits and prosocial motivations, including a reduced version of Perry’s Public Service Motivation scale (Perry, Brudney, Coursey, & Littlepage, 2008). It asked students about current involvement in prosocial activities outside of school, including volunteering, blood donation, and informal helping. It asked students their opinions of the for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors, and about their plans to work in each sector.
As the survey was distributed only to students in public service Master’s degree programs, it is not possible to generalize its findings to the broader population of the United States, or even people working in public service professions. The findings are nonetheless important for three reasons. First, students in public service graduate programs will go on to leadership careers, making them unusually influential in the nonprofit and public sector. Second, this population is of particular interest to the readers of Public Administration Quarterly who teach students in public service Master’s programs. Knowing the differences between Millennials and Generation X graduate students will help professors and staff in these programs better meet students’ needs as Millennial students come to replace Generation X students. Finally, surveying graduate students at the beginning of their study provides data that contributes to an understanding of whether individuals with public service motivation are attracted to and select into service careers, or whether people learn public service motivation from exposure to these values during their education and employment.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Two strands of literature relate to the question of this study: the experiences and personality traits that lead to prosocial behavior generally, and the differences between the Millennial
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generation and older generations. This section briefly reviews the research literature on prosocial behavior and the research literature on generational differences, before focusing on the few studies that explicitly test generational differences in prosocial motivations and actions. Prosocial Behavior and its Causes
The general literature on prosocial behavior is vast and multidisciplinary, and a full review is beyond the scope of this paper. Good reviews are available of the causes of volunteering (Einolf & Chambré, 2011; Musick & Wilson, 2007; Wilson, 2012), charitable giving (Bekkers & Wiepking, 2011), and prosocial behavior generally (Penner, Dovidio, Piliavin, & Schroeder, 2005). The literature on prosocial motivation and action through paid employment is more limited, and focuses on organizational citizenship behaviors (LePine, Erez, & Johnson, 2002; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, & Bachrach, 2000) and public service motivation (Perry & Hondeghem, 2008).
Research on prosocial motivation includes research on the experiences of childhood and young adulthood that are thought to foster prosocial motivation, and the personality traits and motivations that encourage prosocial behavior among adults. For the early life causes of adult prosociality, researchers have examined the effect of parental influences, childhood experiences, and college experiences. Parents teach social values to their children directly and model prosocial behavior through their own actions (Bekkers, 2007; Grimm, Dietz, Spring, Arey, & Foster-Bey, 2005; Hodgkinson, 1995; Janoski, Musick, & Wilson, 1998; Musick & Wilson, 2007; Rossi, 2001). Twin studies have found that there seems to be a genetic predisposition to such prosocial behaviors generally (Rushton, 2004) and volunteering specifically (Son & Wilson, 2010), making it possible that children also inherit a disposition to pursue careers in prosocial fields. Parents’ socioeconomic status also predicts adult participation in volunteering and charitable giving (Musick & Wilson, 2007; Bekkers & Wiepking, 2011). Numerous studies have connected adult participation in volunteering with childhood participation in religious congregations, community associations, and school-based service work (Damon, 1997; Dill,
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2008; Rossi, 2001; Wuthnow, 1985). Colleges can also be an important source of prosocial values and a commitment to good citizenship, although colleges vary in the extent to which they promote such values and offer opportunities for service-learning and volunteer work (Astin, 2004; Colby, 2003; Sax, 2004). Among adults, a number of personality traits, dispositions, and motivations correlate with prosocial behaviors, which include empathic concern, role identity, and moral obligation. Several scholars have examined how “empathic concern” (Davis, 1994) and “other-oriented empathy” (Penner, Fritzsche, Craiger, & Friefeld, 1995), defined as the ability and tendency to feel a range of emotions in response to witnessing or learning of another person’s suffering, can predict helping behavior. People may help others out of a sense of moral obligation, either directly to specific individuals or as part of a sense of general civic duty (Einolf, 2010; Rossi, 2001; Schwartz, 1977; Schwartz & Fleishman, 1978).
Perry’s (1997) original public service motivation scale combined some of these social psychological measures into a single scale, with subscales for compassion, self-sacrifice, attraction to public policy making, and commitment to civic duty. The compassion subscale resembles Penner and colleagues’ (Penner et al. 1995) “other-oriented empathy” and Davis’ (1994) “empathic concern,” and the self-sacrifice scale resembles measures of moral obligation, but the attraction to public policy making and commitment to civic duty subscales measure a type of prosocial motivation particular to government and nonprofit service. In a review of twenty years of public service motivation (PSM) research, Perry and colleagues (Perry, Hondeghem, & Wise, 2010) state that one of the main theoretical explanations for the prevalence of PSM among government employees was the theory of attraction, selection, and attrition. People high in public service motivation are attracted to government and nonprofit careers and are more likely to select into such organizations. People high in PSM are also more likely to be satisfied with their experiences in public and nonprofit sector employment and to stay in those jobs. Vandenabeele (2008) develops this theory in relation to the literature on how
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individuals like to find jobs in which they fit well with their employing organization and work environment. An alternative theory is that people take government and nonprofit jobs for other reasons and then develop prosocial motivation through exposure to peer norms and organizational culture. While Perry and colleagues’ (2010) literature review does not explore this possibility, support for this theory comes a study of state government employees, whose levels of PSM correlated with organizational culture, hierarchy, the amount of “red tape” they experience in their work, and organizational reform efforts (Moynihan & Pandey 2007).
Research has supported the role of attraction and selection, but this research has been “limited” in scope (Perry et al. 2010, p. 683). The only study known to the author of Master’s degree students, which took place in Belgium, found that students who scored highly on the PSM scale were more likely to prefer careers in the public sector, and particularly favored service-oriented public agencies (Vandenabeele, 2008). Among state government employees, education correlates positively with PSM, a finding that also supports the attraction and selection theory (Moynihan & Pandey 2007). Attorneys who stated that they chose a legal career because of their “interest in social service/helping others” were not more likely to work for the government in their first job after law school, but were more likely to eventually pursue government careers (Wright & Christensen, 2010). If public service motivation varies by generation, it would most likely do so because of formative experiences that take place during the youth and early adult life of members of those generations, which makes the developmental antecedents of PSM important. Perry and colleagues (2008) found that youth volunteering, current volunteering, and religious participation all influenced adult levels of PSM, but did not find a correlation with family socialization. If involvement in youth volunteering and religion changes between generations, it is possible that PSM levels change as well.
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Generational Differences Answering whether Millennials differ from older
generations in their public service motivation and behavior requires a brief discussion of the broader literature on generations and generational differences. A generation is a group of people born within a time period who are similar to one another because of shared experiences in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Definitions of generations in the United States vary, but a common strategy is to separate earlier generations into the “long civic” generation, born between 1910 and 1930, the “silent generation” of 1931-1945, and the “baby boom” generation of 1946 to 1964 (Einolf, 2008; Goss, 1999). The introduction to this special issue defines “Generation X” as those born between 1965 and 1979, and the “Millennial” generation, sometimes called “Generation Y” or even “Generation Me” (Twenge, 2010), as those born between 1980 and 1995. Popular authors and journalists like to comment on the differences between generations, but these supposed differences often fail to receive support when tested with scientifically rigorous methods. Testing generational differences is made even more difficult by the fact that cross-sectional surveys confuse generational differences with life course differences. In other words, a representative survey conducted in 2012 would contain Millennial respondents aged 17 to 32, Generation X respondents aged 33 to 47, Baby Boomers aged 48 to 66, Silent Generation respondents aged 67 to 81, and members of the Long Civic generation aged 82 and older. Any differences among these groups could just as easily be the result of the life stage they currently occupy as a difference in their generational character. To truly compare generations, one would need identical surveys collected ten or more years apart, when the members of each generation were the same age. A thorough review of the research on workplace differences between Millennials and older generations (Deal, Altman, & Rogelberg, 2010), which is careful to compare only studies that separate generation from life course effects, finds relatively few differences between Millennials and Generation X, but larger differences between these two generations and the
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Baby Boomers. Millennials give work less centrality in their lives than older generations (Twenge, Campbell, Hoffman, & Lance, 2010), and express a slightly higher satisfaction with work (Kowske, Rasch, & Wiley, 2010). Millennials work about the same number of hours as previous generations, but may be less loyal to employers and more willing to change jobs than Generation X (Lyons, Schweitzer, Ng, & Kuron, 2012). A review of this literature concludes that “there are a few small differences” in Millennials’ work attitudes, but not the kind of “sweeping differences in attitudes, orientations, and work ethic that populate the popular press.” These differences are “not large enough to give us any confidence that the work environment is fundamentally affected” (Deal et al., 2010, p. 192). The lack of sharp differences between Generation X and the Millennial generation indicates that they may not be two distinct entities. The Great Depression, World War II, and the post-war decades of prosperity and high fertility were major events that made growing up in the 30’s, the 40’s, and the 50’s and 60’s very different experiences, and made the generations that grew up during those years markedly different. The years since then have seen many changes, but these changes have been gradual. Obesity has become more common (Barkin, 2010); immigration has increased; youth volunteering has grown; college enrollments have increased; the academic preparation of college students has declined (Deal et al. 2010). Twenge (2010, p. 208) concludes that there are real differences between Generation X and the Millennial generation, which are not “sudden shifts” but “linear trends.” Generational Differences in Public Service Motivation and Prosocial Behavior
While there have been few studies specifically of generational differences in prosocial motivation and behavior, either in the workplace or elsewhere, one can infer probable differences from other literature. One of the most significant differences between Generation X and the Millennials involves the steady growth over the past few decades in youth service and volunteering, particularly among college-bound young people (Musick & Wilson, 2007; Twenge, 2010). After decades of
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decline, youth political participation has increased among Millennials as well (Fisher, 2012). These increases are offset somewhat by a decline in religious participation (Pew Forum, 2010); as religion is a source of prosocial values and norms, this decline may have offset any gains in prosocial motivation that may have come from increased political activity and volunteering.
Existing research on prosocial motivations among Millennials has found conflicting results. Millennials score lower than Generation X students on measures of empathy, desire to work in an altruistic career, and other measures of prosocial career goals (Twenge et al., 2010; Twenge, Campbell, & Freeman, 2012). However, more Millennial high school seniors state they feel it is important to make a contribution to society, and Millennials value the extrinsic rewards of work, such as status and salary, less than members of Generation X (Twenge et al., 2010; Twenge et al., 2012). Despite their lower interest in extrinsic rewards, Millennials express strong concerns about the low salaries available in the non-profit sector (McGinnis, 2011). In summary, there is an extensive literature on public service motivation and prosocial behavior, and an extensive literature on generational differences, but little work that has combined the two. There is not a sharp discontinuity between the Millennial generation and Generation X, as there has been with some older generations, but there have been gradual changes over time that would lead one to expect modest differences between the two. Millennials did more volunteer work in high school and college than Generation X students did, and Millennials are slightly more politically active, but less active in religion. The increase in youth volunteering and political activity would tend to support higher levels of public service motivation among Millennials, but the decrease in religious participation would tend to suggest lower levels of PSM. It is not clear which effect would dominate, or whether the two effects would cancel each other out, leaving PSM levels the same.
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THEORY AND HYPOTHESES This study compares Millennial and Generation X graduate students in public service Master’s programs. Based on the work of prior scholars, it is predicted that Millennial students will be different from Generation X students in the antecedents of PSM, as they continue to be affected by linear trends such as increases in youth service work (Musick & Wilson, 2007; Twenge, 2010) and political participation (Fisher, 2012), and decreases in religious participation (Pew Forum, 2010).
H1. Millennial students will report a) less childhood religious activity than Generation X students, b) more college volunteer service, and c) no difference in parental encouragement to help others.
H2: As adults, Millennial students will report a) more political and b) less religious activity than Generation X students. If service, political, and religious activity are antecedents of PSM, an increase in two antecedents and a decrease in the other would have contradictory effects. As there is no way to predict which effect would be stronger, a difference between generations on prosocial motivation and behavior is hypothesized, but not a direction.
H3: Millennial students will report different levels of a) prosocial behaviors and b) public service motivation than Generation X students. Finally, the increase in recent decades of the size and visibility of the nonprofit sector (Boris & Steuerle, 2006; Hall, 2006), along with the increase in youth volunteering, may have made the sector more appealing to Millennials. Millennials’ higher levels of political activity and the surge in youth participation during the Obama campaigns may make government service more appealing to Millennials as well. Those students most interested in public service may also be most affected by these shifts in perceptions of the value of public service, so that public service motivation may have a stronger effect on Millennials’ career plans.
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H4a: Millennials will have more positive views of a career in the nonprofit and government sector than Generation X students. H4b: Public service motivation will have a stronger correlation with preference for a nonprofit or government career for Millennials.
DATA AND METHODS Sample
The data for this paper was collected as part of a larger project on the prosocial motivations, behaviors, and career plans of public service graduate students in the United States. A group of professors at six universities sent the survey to students who were enrolling in their first classes in Master’s degrees programs in public service. The schools were DePaul University in Chicago, Georgia Southern University, Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Indiana University – Bloomington, San Diego State University, and the State University of New York at Albany. These schools were selected because there were professors at the school willing to publicize the survey and send out the survey link to their students, but they do form a geographically diverse sample. Five schools were public, and one was a private Catholic institution. All six schools offered Masters Degrees in Public Administration, and some also offered degrees or concentrations in Nonprofit Management, Public Policy, and International Affairs. The degree programs varied greatly in size, from cohorts of less than ten students to cohorts of over 100. Most students were full-time, but the proportion varied from about two-thirds to over 90%.
Response rates varied across the universities, as some schools had policies that forbade sending multiple e-mails to recruit students for surveys, and ranged from 40.8% to 83.7%. There were 209 completed surveys, of which ten were from international students and five were from students aged 50 or older. As most research and theory about generational differences is culturally specific, this study removed the international students from the analysis. As students aged 50 or older are members of the Baby Boomer generation, they were
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removed also, which left 194 valid cases. To reduce the length of the survey, some questions were put into modules and only sent to half of the respondents, meaning that the sample size was smaller for these questions.
There were 142 Millennial students (73.2% of the total sample) and 52 members of Generation X in the sample, and the proportion of Millennials varied greatly, from a low of 28.6% to a high of 93.2% of the respondents at a particular school. In regards to degree program, 116 (59.8%) were pursuing a degree in Public Administration, 34 (17.5%) in Nonprofit Management, 17 (8.8%) in Public Service, 15 (7.7%) in Public Policy, and 12 (6.2%) in International Affairs. In regards to race and ethnicity, 18 (9.3%) identified themselves as African-American, 3 (1.5%) identified themselves as Asian-American, 4 (2.1%) as Native American, 20 (10.1%) as Hispanic or Latino, 162 (83.5%) as white, and 17 (8.8%) as some other race. As the survey allowed people to select more than one race or ethnicity, the total adds up to more than 100%. There were 74 (38.1%) male respondents and 120 (61.9%) women. Variables
The variables used in this study included measures of the antecedents of public service motivation, measures of its prosocial behavioral correlates, a measure of PSM itself, and measures of opinions of the three sectors and career plans. Antecedents of public service motivation (H1): Given that the source of generational differences in values is thought to be different experiences in childhood and young adulthood, the survey used many measures of the antecedents of PSM. To measure parental and family influences, the survey took six statements from Perry and colleagues (2008) which are measured on a five point agree/disagree scale: whether their family members “always helped one another,” whether their parents “actively participated in volunteer work,” “frequently discussed moral values with me,” “told me I should be willing to lend a helping hand,” and “very often urged me to get involved with volunteer projects for children;” and whether their parents “thought that it was more important to not get involved” with
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“strangers experiencing distress” (reverse coded). The survey also asked respondents about their parents’ education, allowing responses on a 1-6 ordinal scale ranging from “Less than high school” to “PhD or medical degree.” The survey asked respondents “how important was religion in your home when you were growing up,” on a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 4 (very important), and asked how often they attended religious services as a child, on a scale of 1 (never) to 4 (weekly or more). In regards to their college experiences, the survey asked whether respondents’ college had “a culture that valued service to others,” on a scale of 1 (not valued) to 4 (highly valued). It asked how many service learning courses they took in college, whether they did a service-based internship, whether they participated in study abroad programs, and whether they did volunteer work in college outside of service-learning or internship programs. Prosocial behaviors (H2): Following the research design of Perry and colleagues (2008), the survey asked about formal and informal volunteering, using a six point scale with ranges of 0, 1- 19, 20-39, 40-79, 80-159, and 160 or more hours over the past year. For informal volunteering, it asked respondents about hours spent providing transportation and running errands, helping with housework, providing child care, and “any other forms of helping out.” For formal volunteering, it asked about work for religious, educational, human service, and other organizations. In addition to these measures, the survey asked whether respondents had given blood ever, had given blood in the last year, and whether they were registered organ donors. The survey asked about current religious and political participation, which are expected to correlate with PSM. It asked students how often they attend religious services, pray or read religious texts, practice religious rituals at home, take part in religious activities, and take part in the activities of a religious service organization. It asked whether respondents engaged in political volunteering, and whether they had voted in the 2008 presidential election, the 2010 congressional election, the most recent state election, and the most recent local election.
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Public service motivation (H3): The survey used a reduced PSM scale taken directly from Perry and colleagues’ (2008) survey of the antecedents of public service motivation, which studied recipients of the volunteering “points of light” award. The reduced scale had five items that measured the compassion subscale, four that measure the self-sacrifice subscale, and three that measure civic duty. The reduced scale lacked only the interest in public policy subscale, was dropped, following Perry and colleagues (2008), due to its poor validity in earlier studies. The other three subscales are well-validated in earlier studies, and the Cronbach’s alpha reliability value in this sample was .664 for compassion, .742 for self-sacrifice, and .736 for civic duty. Career plans (H4): The survey asked how respondents regarded the non-profit, for-profit, and government sector in regards to salaries, benefits, interest of the work, opportunity to help others, prestige, time demands, flexible hours, emotional demands, and compatibility with personal and family life, on a scale of 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent). It then asked how they felt about working in each sector, on a five point scale from “would never work there” to “would only choose to work there.” Analytical Method T-tests are used to determine whether the means scores of Millennial and Generation X students were significantly different on measures of public service motivation (H3), its antecedents (H1), and its behavioral correlates (H2). T-tests also measured whether Millennial and Generation X students had different perceptions of the non-profit, for-profit, and public sectors (H4a). Pearson’s R was used to determine whether the three PSM scales correlated with preference for a non-profit or public sector career, and multiple regression with an interaction term for Millennials tested whether the strength of this correlation differed significantly between Millennial and Generation X students.
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RESULTS Descriptive Statistics
In general, students in the sample reported high values on public service and prosocial motivations and high participation in religion, politics, and prosocial behaviors (Table 1). Students scored high on the public service motivation scale, with average scores of 3.8 on compassion, 4.0 on self-sacrifice, and 4.0 on civic duty. These are higher numbers than Perry’s (1997) original purposive sample of public service employees and students, who scored an average of 3.2 on compassion, 3.4 on self-sacrifice, and 3.4 on civic duty. They are similar to the scores of DeHart-Davis, Marlowe, and Pandey’s (2006) sample of managers in information management departments of state health and human services agencies, who scored an average of 3.7 on compassion and 3.9 on civic duty, and were not tested on self-sacrifice.
In regards to prosocial behaviors, 87.5% of students in the sample did volunteer work during the past year, much higher than the rate of 26.5% among the general population (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). Almost three quarters (74.9%) were registered organ donors, as opposed to 42.8% of all adults in the United States (Donate Life America, 2012). Graduate students were highly active politically, with 91.5% reporting having voted in the 2008 presidential election and 63.6% having voted in the 2010 congressional elections. By comparison, only 61.6% of the general public voted in the 2008 presidential election, and 41.0% voted in the 2010 congressional elections (McDonald, 2012). Only in blood donation were graduate students not more prosocial than the general population, as 14.9% gave blood during the last year, about the same proportion as the 15.3% of respondents who reported giving blood in a nationally representative 2002 survey (Einolf, 2008).
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Differences between Millennials and Generation X Students There were few differences between Millennial and
Generation X students on public service motivation, its antecedents, or its motivational and behavioral correlates. In regards to the antecedents of PSM (H1), there were no statistically significant differences in parents’ modeling and teaching values, as hypothesized (H1c). However, there were also no statistically significant differences in childhood religious activity, which failed to support H1a. As predicted (H1b), Millennials had more service-oriented college experiences, as they were significantly (p < .01) more likely to have taken study abroad courses in college, to have volunteered in college, and to report that their college had a culture that valued service. The parents of Millennial students were also significantly (p < .001) better educated than the parents of Generation X students. Table 1 Means, proportions, and differences between Millennial and older students H1: Antecedents
Parental education (N = 203): Mean SD Millennials Gen X
Father’s education 3.4 1.2 3.6** 3.0
Mother’s education 3.3 1.1 3.5*** 2.9
Parents’ modeling and teaching values (N = 70)
Parents volunteered 3.1 1.5 3.1 3.3
Help within family 4.4 0.9 4.5 4.4
Parents not involved 2.9 1.1 3.1 2.6
Parents discussed values 3.7 1.3 3.7 3.8
Parents taught helping 3.8 1.3 3.8 3.8
Parents urged volunteering 2.7 1.3 2.8 2.5
Childhood religion (N= 199)
Household religiosity 2.5 1.0 2.5 2.6
Childhood services attendance 3.1 1.0 3.0 3.2
College experience (N=194):
Service internship 34.5%
Study abroad 30.4%
Service-learning courses 2.1 1.1 2.0 2.1
College volunteering 2.9 1.1 3.0* 2.6
Service culture 3 0.9 3.1* 2.8
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Table 1, continued H2: Behavioral correlates
Formal volunteering (N=70):
Volunteering – religious 30.0%
Volunteering – educational 51.4%
Volunteering – Human services 55.7%
Volunteering – other 48.6%
Volunteering – any 87.1%
Informal volunteering (N=194)
Informal vol – errands 68.0%
Informal vol – housework 62.4%
Informal vol – child care 43.8%
Informal vol – other 86.6%
Blood and organ donation (N = 194)
Gave blood last year 14.9%
Gave blood ever 56.2%
Registered organ donor
Religious participation (N=194):
Religious attendance 2.1 1.2 2.0 2.3
Prayer and reading 2.8 1.8 2.7 3.3*
Rituals at home 2.1 1.5 2.1 2.3
Religious activities 1.7 1.1 1.6 2.0**
Religious service work 1.6 1.0 1.5 1.8^
Political participation (N = 191 to 194)
Voted in 2008 91.2%
Voted in 2010 62.7%
Voted – recent state 63.9%
Voted – recent local 56.0%
Political volunteering 30.0%
H3: Public service motivation (N=194)
PSM Compassion 3.8 0.8 3.8 3.7
PSM Sacrifice 4.0 0.7 4.0 3.9
PSM Civic 4.0 0.7 4.0 3.9
There were few statistically significant differences between Millennials and Generation X students in political behavior, but some differences in religious behavior. Millennials were significantly (p < .01) less likely to vote in the 2010 Congressional elections, but there were no statistically significant differences for other elections, thus providing only modest support for Hypothesis 2a. As hypothesized (H2b), Millennial students engaged in significantly less prayer and scripture reading (p < .05), religious activities (p < .01), and
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religious service work (p < .10), but did not attend services or participate in religious rituals at home significantly less often.
In regards to prosocial behaviors (H3a), older students were significantly more likely (p < .05) to have ever given blood, but more Millennials reported having given blood during the past year (p < .10). There were no significant differences in formal volunteering, but Millennials were more likely to do two types of informal volunteering, helping others with errands (p < .05) and housework (p < .10). Scores on the three PSM subscales (H3b) were almost identical among Millennial and Generation X students. Millennials scored an average of 3.8 on the compassion subscale, 4.0 on the sacrifice subscale, and 4.0 on civic duty, while Generation X students scored an average of 3.7 on compassion, 3.9 on sacrifice, and 3.9 on civic duty. These slight differences of means were not statistically significant.
In regards to opinions of the three sectors and career plans (H4), the two generations were almost identical (Table 2). Generation X students had a significantly (p < .05) better opinion of the nonprofit sector’s salaries and flexible hours, while Millennials had a significantly (p < .05) higher opinion of the interest of the work. There were no significant differences in opinions about working in the government sector. There were no significant differences in current employment, with 27.3% of the total sample employed in the public sector, 21.1% in the private sector, 35.1% in nonprofits, and 16.5% not currently employed
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Table 2 Descriptive statistics and differences between Millennials and older students on perceptions of the three sectors