A study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, released today, indicates that the middle class is much more charitable than the wealthy. According to the study, households earning between fifty thousand and seventy-five thousand dollars annually gave 7.6% of their net income to charity on average, while households earning over a hundred thousand gave only 4.2%. When income broke two hundred thousand, the percentage given to charity dropped to a measly 2.8%.
The Washington Business Journal’s report on the study says the following,
In the Washington area, low- and middle-income places such as Suitland and Capitol Heights donated a greater share of discretionary income than the more opulent communities of Bethesda and McLean.
Montgomery County, Fairfax County and Prince William County donated less than 6 percent of discretionary income; Prince George’s and Charles counties donated 12.3 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively. District donors averaged 6.2 percent.
These statistics are hardly surprising, however. The rich didn’t get rich by giving their money away. The study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy used the most recent available IRS records of Americans who itemized their deduction. It also states that, “To account for sharp differences in the cost of living across America, The Chronicle’s study compared generosity rates after residents paid taxes, housing, food, and other necessities.”
The study rather succinctly outlines giving disparities in the following way:
The rich aren’t the most generous. 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. In the Washington metropolitan area, for example, low- and middle-income communities like Suitland, Md., and Capitol Heights, Md., donate a much bigger share of discretionary income than do wealthier communities like Bethesda, Md., and McLean, Va.
The 1 percent really are different. 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.
Red states are more generous than blue states. 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.
The last paragraph is slightly misleading–remember, religious donations are considered charity as well, so tithes, collections, and church donations are responsible for a great deal of charitable donating. In fact, the study goes on to say, “When religious giving isn’t counted, the geography of giving is very different. Some states in the Northeast jump into the top 10 when secular gifts alone are counted. New York would vault from No. 18 to No. 2, and Pennsylvania would climb from No. 40 to No. 4.”
A link to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s study and explanation of it can be found here.
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