This is a question that arose out of ethnographic research I did in 2009 and 2010 on mobile soup kitchen volunteers. Many of them–many who were fairly wealthy–said they handed out soup in the city because they didn’t expect the government to do the work they did. They didn’t trust the government to do it.
Using GSS data from 2002 and 2004, I explore this question in a bit more detail, first looking at descriptives, then creating an index for government expectations (alpha=.73)
Here are the slides for a presentation I gave on the subject.
The less you expect from the government to provide social goods, the MORE likely you are to volunteer. Like, so seriously guys.