<< The Body Politic
America’s generosity divide
Friday, August 31st, 2012
According to a new report by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Americans across the country and in different income brackets have surprisingly different levels of charitable giving. The study, “How America Gives,” looked at IRS records from 2008 for taxpayers who itemized their deductions and who earned $50,000 or more that year. The authors found that these Americans donated a median of 4.7 percent of their discretionary income to charitable causes. The picture becomes more interesting, though, when you compare the data by region, income level, etc.
Here are some of the key findings:
- “Middle-class Americans give a far bigger share of their discretionary income to charities than the rich. Households that earn $50,000 to $75,000 give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more.”
- “Religion has a big influence on giving patterns. Regions of the country that are deeply religious are more generous than those that are not. [...] In states like Utah and Mississippi, the typical household gives more than 7 percent of its income to charity, while the average household in Massachusetts and three other New England states gives less than 3 percent. [...] Two of the top nine states—Utah and Idaho—have high numbers of Mormon residents, who have a tradition of tithing at least 10 percent of their income to the church. The remaining states in the top nine are all in the Bible Belt.”
- “Rich people who live in neighborhoods with many other wealthy people give a smaller share of their incomes to charity than rich people who live in more economically diverse communities. When people making more than $200,000 a year account for more than 40 percent of the taxpayers in a ZIP code, the wealthy residents give an average of 2.8 percent of discretionary income to charity, compared with an average of 4.2 percent for all itemizers earning $200,000 or more.”
- ”The eight states where residents gave the highest share of income to charity went for John McCain in 2008. The seven-lowest ranking states supported Barack Obama.”
Check out the whole report here–and see how your city or state ranks.