The Short-Term Impact of Inter-Community Volunteering Activities and Soft Skills Training on Self-Reported Social Cohesion Values
Despite its growing popularity, evidence that volunteering enhances civic values and social cohesion among different communities remains limited in developing countries. This study presents novel evidence from Lebanon on the impact of offering a volunteering program that consisted of inter-community volunteering activities and soft skills training on self-reported social cohesion values in the short term. The results show that youth who were selected to participate in the program were more likely to report higher tolerance values as well as a stronger sense of belonging to the Lebanese community roughly one year after the completion of activities. The results show that selection into the program had no impact on improving volunteers’ soft skills that were thought to contribute to social cohesion. This finding implies that the mechanism for improved social cohesion values most likely came from the program’s innovative feature, which required 20 percent of selected youth to come from communities outside where the area where the project was implemented. Selection into the program had no impact on other secondary measures, namely, employability and employment outcomes. The results should be interpreted with caution, given study design limitations that relate to the nonrandom assignment of youth into the treatment and comparison groups, as well as the presence of nonrandom attrition between the two tracked time periods.