Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States

41 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2012 Last revised: 10 Aug 2013

Michele Margolis

University of Pennsylvania

Michael Sances

University of Memphis - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 9, 2013

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Margolis, Michele and Sances, Michael, Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States (August 9, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2148033 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2148033

Michele Margolis

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

243 Stiteler Hall
208 S. 37th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Michael Sances (Contact Author)

University of Memphis - Department of Political Science ( email )

United States

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