More than 80 million Euros worth of work in Estonia is done by volunteers, according to a new study by the think tank Praxis. Almost a quarter of a million people volunteer every year, without taking into account one-time volunteers and unacknowledged voluntary work.
If volunteers were paid, then the public sector and the non-profit sector would spend between 0,2%-0,56% of the GDP in paying for their labor (29-92 million Euros in 2010). The smaller figure uses the national minimum wage as the baseline salary for volunteer work, whereas the larger figure uses the average wage, however these assessments are rather theoretical. The most exact figure lists the price of volunteer labor at 0,33% of the GDP (48 million Euros), which is the sum spent if the public and third sector were to buy voluntary labor at market rates. It must be noted that these estimates do not take into account one-time volunteers and unacknowledged voluntary work. If these are taken into account, the economic value of voluntary work is between 0,33% and 0,91% of the GDP.
However, Praxis notes that the lack of an internationally recognized comparative framework makes it difficult to compare the value of voluntary labor in Estonia with that done in neighboring countries. Most countries do not measure the economic value of voluntary work, Praxis analyst Risto Kaarna told ERR News.