The short answer is yes. (You knew we’d say that, right?)
Here are a couple of the most interesting studies on giving and longevity:
Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley conducted a study in 1999 in which he found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than those who didn’t volunteer. The results held true even when he controlled for age, exercise habits, existing health conditions and unhealthy habits such as smoking.
In 2003, Stephanie Brown of the University of Michigan confirmed a similar relationship between giving and longevity. In her study, elderly couples that helped friends, relatives or neighbors or provided emotional support to their spouses had a lower risk of dying over a 5-year period than those who didn’t. What’s fascinating about her study is that those who received help did not have a lower risk of death. Apparently if a long life is what you want, it really is better to give than to receive.
There are lots of plausible explanations for the relationship between giving and longevity. One possibility is that giving lowers stress, which is correlated with a range of health problems. Whatever the mechanism, it’s clear there is a positive physiological response when we exercise our generosity.
Source: 5 Ways Giving is Good For You; Greater Good, University of California, Berkeley