Friday, November 24, 2006

Who Gives More: Liberals or Conservatives?

From a new book by Syracuse University professor and behavioral economist Arthur C. Brooks, "Who Really Cares? America's Charity Divide - Who Gives, Who Doesn't and Why it Matters:"

The conventional wisdom runs like this: Liberals are charitable because they advocate government redistribution of money in the name of social justice; conservatives are uncharitable because they oppose these policies. But note the sleight of hand: Government spending, according to this logic, is a form of charity.

Let us be clear: Government spending is not charity, because it is not a voluntary sacrifice by individuals. Because government spending is not charity, sanctimonious yard signs do not prove that the bearers are charitable or that their opponents are selfish.

To evaluate accurately the charity difference between liberals and conservatives, we must consider private, voluntary charity. How do liberals and conservatives compare in their private giving and volunteering? Beyond strident slogans and sarcastic political caricatures, what, exactly, do the data tell us?

An analysis of 15 sets of data tell us that the conventional wisdom is dead wrong. In most ways, political conservatives are not personally less charitable than political liberals—they are more so. Here is what the data show:

1. Conservative households gave, on average, 30 percent more money to charity than liberal households, within every income class, from poor to rich.

2. Conservatives were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals. If liberals gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply in the United States would jump by 45 percent.

3. Compared to liberals, conservatives were more than twice as likely to volunteer to help the poor.

Here a few links to articles about the book:

Religion News Service.

American Enterprise Institute.

Scientific American.

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