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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Partisanship and Charitable Giving

Do conservatives give more to charity than liberals? Nope:

Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States, by Andrew Gelman: Michele Margolis and Michael Sances write:

Conservatives and liberals are equally generous in their donation habits. This pattern holds at both the individual and state level, and contradicts the conventional wisdom that partisans differ in their generosity.

What about the claim by Arthur Brooks that conservatives give more? Margolis and Sances write:

We are not the first to ask whether partisanship affects giving. In 2006, Arthur Brooks made headlines with a provocative finding from his book Who Really Cares: despite stereotypes of liberals caring more about the poor, conservatives were purported to be more generous when it comes to giving to charities. These results stirred the political pot by taking “bleeding heart liberals” to task for their stinginess when it comes to their own money. . . . we demonstrate that these results are not robust, and appear to be driven by a non-traditional question wording for identifying liberals and conservatives. After correcting for this problem, there is no statistical difference between conservative and liberal giving, conditional on observable characteristics. Further, when we use partisanship rather than ideology to measure liberalism, there is no statistical difference in giving, regardless of whether we adjust for observable characteristics. ...

Where do liberals and conservatives give their money?

While levels of giving are roughly equivalent, liberals are much more likely to donate to secular organizations, and conservatives are more likely to donate to religious causes, especially their own congregation. ...

I’m impressed by this work, partly because a few years ago when I saw Brooks’s claim, I contacted him and asked for details on what he did, and then I threw the problem to some students to replicate it. They got tired and never did it.

P.S. Recently, Arthur Brooks has been having some trouble with the General Social Survey. Working with data can be difficult!

    Posted by on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 09:46 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (36)


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