The Rich Are Different.

(cross-posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

There is nothing new about it - but here's more proof - that the poor are the most generous givers.

America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

"The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity," said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. "The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give."

Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America's households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

In terms of income, the poorest fifth seem unlikely benefactors. Their pretax household incomes averaged $10,531 in 2007, according to the BLS survey, compared with $158,388 for the top fifth.

In addition, its members are the least educated fifth of the U.S. population, the oldest, the most religious and the likeliest to rent their homes, according to demographers. They're also the most likely fifth to be on welfare, to drive used cars or rely on public transportation, to be students, minorities, women and recent immigrants.

However, many of these characteristics predict generosity. Women are more generous than men, studies have shown. Older people give more than younger donors with equal incomes. The working poor, disproportionate numbers of which are recent immigrants, are America's most generous group, according to Arthur Brooks, the author of the book "Who Really Cares," an analysis of U.S. generosity.

What makes poor people's generosity even more impressive is that their giving generally isn't tax-deductible, because they don't earn enough to justify itemizing their charitable tax deductions. In effect, giving a dollar to charity costs poor people a dollar while it costs deduction itemizers 65 cents.

Which leads to the natural question some might be asking themselves- why are generous people poorer than stingy ones?

Tags: donations, generosity, poor, rich (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

tips for generosity...

no matter what your tax bracket is.

by canadian gal 2009-05-19 05:07PM | 0 recs
Re: tips for generosity...

Sure, but rich people still give away more money than everyone else.

But I do agree with you re: poor people. And they are duly rewarded.

by Zeitgeist9000 2009-05-19 05:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

 Completely meaningless silly generalizations and for what purpose? Everybody's different, and everybody's the same. The poorest Americans are among the richest people in the world, statistically. It's true. Does it matter? Why?

by QTG 2009-05-19 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

completely meaningless generalizations?  please elaborate.

by canadian gal 2009-05-19 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

 Groups aren't one thing or another, except Republicans who are assholes. Individuals are generous or stingy, gregarious or shy, snarky or sincere. The problem with "groupings" are often arbitrary and the methodology behind the classification are not easily tested. The exercise is most often self serving, and used to reinforce stereotypes (not true in the case of Republicans, who are assholes, they are the exception that proves my rule.)

by QTG 2009-05-20 03:29AM | 0 recs
i'm not sure...

that was the intended message.  in fact, the second link goes to the same phenomena in britain.  

but as indicated in the more recent article tithing may play a factor, nevertheless i find it touching that it would appear that those that need it the most - statistically - give more.

by canadian gal 2009-05-20 10:24AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

Well, I respect the opinion of the commenters so far, but I think this is a good diary, as is typical of CG. I and others may disagree with certain points (we'll all disagree on something eventually) but her diaries always have data to back them up. Now, it's possible that there are problems with the data. If so we should point them out.

Yes, such data can re-enforce stereotypes, but testing for meaningless data statistically isn't as difficult as some think. Given a random sample of each class and the size of each class, one can assess the probability that such a discrepancy occurs by chance. If that probability is very low, then the data are almost certainly telling you something (no indication of whether or how that was done here, though). Now, the harder part is ensuring a random sample.

I think it does say something although obviously any given person pulled out of a group could be exceedingly generous and another might not.

But if Republicans are assholes... the wealthiest Americans are seriously over-represented in their ranks... so... come to your own conclusion.

It just shows they generally don't share my (partly religiously based!) world view...

God created mankind and gave the Earth to him collectively for men/women to share (or random selection led to humankind and the Earth exists as a separate entity over which individuals have no inherent right of ownership). Therefore, to the extent that some people have tremendous excess while others have insufficient resources to scrape out a meager existence, the wealthier individuals either stole their share, or acquired it through some other illegitimate means (though not necessarily through any 'sin' or 'evil or selfish' action directly by them).

You all are free to throw darts, and as I'm always looking for different perspectives, rest assured I'll read those darts and see what I can learn.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-05-20 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

You've got to know that:

"But if Republicans are assholes... the wealthiest Americans are seriously over-represented in their ranks... so... come to your own conclusion."

is a Non Sequitur. Not all Republicans are rich. Not all Assholes are Republicans. Nonetheless, all Republicans are assholes. It may be mysterious, but is nonetheless true.

by QTG 2009-05-20 09:11AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

Not at all mysterious. It's textbook logic.

Apologies if I implied that all Republicans fall into the 'wealthy' category. That was not at all my intent. It is absolutely true that not all Republicans are rich; indeed, they have a big draw among religious conservatives of all degrees of 'wealth' and among a segment of the higher end of the lower classes. I'll stop here unless you want more of a description.

Anyway, using the logic, if "all Republicans are assholes" and then if "the higher classes are disproportionately represented among Republicans" (assuming both true), then it follows that "a disproportionate number of the higher classes are assholes" - CAVEAT would be if some other standard for assholishness(?) is met by some group disproportionately made up of the lower classes, this would serve as an offset.

I apologize again if I unintentionally implied that ALL Republicans are rich and that ANY ONE of them you selected would be a 'rich asshole' by default.

Sorry too if I just induced zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz -
I'm to goddam pedantic and long-winded. I'll work on it.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-05-20 10:06AM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

I think a conclusion you might draw is that this society negatively rewards altruism.

by Jess81 2009-05-20 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

or that altruism is a response to hard times?

by the mollusk 2009-05-20 02:21PM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

That would depend on a more fluid class system than we have.  The rich rarely become poor, or vice versa.

by Jess81 2009-05-20 04:33PM | 0 recs
Re: The Rich Are Different.

I'm thinking about this on a more personal level.  If an individual has gone through some hard times and has had somebody come through for them, they would probably (maybe?) be more likely to help someone else out later?  Your guess is as good as mine.

This is all kind of a moot point anyhow, because I suspect that the numbers are so high for low-income folks because they give to Churches.

by the mollusk 2009-05-21 09:26AM | 0 recs

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