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Connecting, Serving and Giving: Civic Engagement among Mid-life and Older African American/Black Adults

This study presents the findings of a survey of non-Hispanic, African Americans/Blacks ages 50 and older regarding several key areas of social and community involvement, including:

  • Their perceived level of influence in making a difference on problems that exist in their community.

  • The number of groups and organizations to which they belong.

  • Their level of involvement in civic and community activities.

  • The frequency with which they vote in Presidential and local elections.

  • Their rate of volunteering—for organizations and/or on their own.

  • Their rate of charitable giving.

  • Demographic and other factors that influence their level of civic engagement.

Key findings include the following:

  • Civic engagement among African Americans/Blacks ages 50 and older has held fairly steady since 2009.  

  • Top predictors of civic engagement among African Americans/Blacks ages 50 and older are household income and education level.  

  • The percentage of 50+ African Americans/Blacks (36%) who feel they have a lot or moderate amount of influence on community problems declined by six percentage points from 2009 (42%).

  • Religious organizations are the most-often cited organizations to which African Americans/Blacks ages 50 and older belong; but have declined since 2009 (i.e., from 69% to 61%).    

This national address-based telephone survey of 714 non-Hispanic African Americans/Blacks ages 50 and older was conducted in August 2015 by AARP’s research partner (SSI) as part of AARP’s Attitude, Trend & Opinion Monitor (ATOM).  Interviews were 20 minutes in length on average and data were weighted by age, gender and other key characteristics.  For more information contact Alicia Williams at ARWilliams@aarp.org.

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