The demographic shift towards an older population in Canada has led to concerns about the increased share of society's resources required to provide health care, social asistance, public pensions, housing, etc. for this group. Preoccupation with this problem, however, has obscured the fact that seniors actively contribute to society in many ways, not the least of which is the provision of substantial amounts of unpaid time contributions of various sorts.
Using data from the 1992 GSS on Time Use (cycle 7), this paper estimates the amount and market value (at replacement cost) of unpaid help - both informal help to others and formal help to organizations - of individuals age 55 and over. Travel time in connection with unpaid help is also analyzed. We find that participation rates and average hours are higher in the informal help sector relative to the formal sector both by age and by gender. The estimates also show that the market value of these contributions is substantial, and that seniors contribute a disproportionate share of the value of unpaid help contributed by all individuals over the age of 25.