Do National Service Programs Improve Subjective Well-Being in Communities?

Kristopher Velasco, Pamela Paxton, Robert W. Ressler, Inbar Weiss, Lilla Pivnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Since the creation of Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) in 1964 and AmeriCorps in 1993, a stated goal of national service programs has been to strengthen the overall health of communities across the United States. But whether national service programs have such community effects remains an open question. Using longitudinal cross-lagged panel and change-score models from 2005 to 2013, this study explores whether communities with national service programs exhibit greater subjective well-being. We use novel measures of subjective well-being derived from tweeted expressions of emotions, engagement, and relationships in 1,347 U.S. counties. Results show that national service programs improve subjective well-being primarily by mitigating threats to well-being and communities that exhibit more engagement are better able to attract national service programs. Although limited in size, these persistent effects are robust to multiple threats to inference and provide important new evidence on how national service improves communities in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-291
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Review of Public Administration
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


  • AmeriCorps
  • national service
  • subjective well-being


Dive into the research topics of 'Do National Service Programs Improve Subjective Well-Being in Communities?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this