Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States
41 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2012 Last revised: 10 Aug 2013
Date Written: August 9, 2013
Voluntary contributions from individuals are the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations, which in turn fund a large portion of social services in the United States. Given this reliance donor generosity, it is important to understand who contributes, and to where. In this paper, we argue against the conventional wisdom that political conservatives are inherently more generous toward private charities than liberals. At the individual level, the large bivariate relationship between giving and conservatism vanishes after adjusting for differences in income and religiosity. At the state level, we find no evidence of a relationship between charitable giving and Republican presidential voteshare. Finally, we show that any remaining differences in giving are an artifact of Republicans' greater propensity to give to religious causes, particularly their own church. Taken together, our results counter the notion that political conservatives compensate for their opposition to governmental intervention by supporting private charities.
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