NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 30, 2008

This holiday season is a time to examine who's been naughty and who's been nice.  The problem is this: liberals are personally stingy.

Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad.  Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.

  • Arthur Brooks, the author of the book, "Who Really Cares," cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals.
  • A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.
  • The "generosity index" from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while the Northeastern states are least likely to do so.

And while conservatives are more likely to give to churches, who arguably are more concerned with building lavish spires than helping the poor, religious liberals are as generous as religious conservatives.

Conservatives also appear to be more generous than liberals in nonfinancial ways.  People in red states are considerably more likely to volunteer for good causes, and conservatives give blood more often.  In fact, if liberals and moderates gave blood as often as conservatives, the American blood supply would increase by 45 percent.

Something similar is true internationally.  European countries seem to show more compassion than America in providing safety nets for the poor, and they give far more humanitarian foreign aid per capita than the United States does.  But as individuals, Europeans are far less charitable than Americans.

Source: Nicholas D. Kristof, "Bleeding Heart Tightwads," New York Times, December 21, 2008.

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