Liberals, conservatives equally charitable
Posted on November 27, 2012
It is often said that conservatives are more charitable than liberals, in that conservatives donate more money to charitable organizations than liberals.
But is this commonly held view true? According to a new study, the answer is no.
Charitable contributions are the lifeblood of many nonprofit organizations; however, little attention has been paid to how political attitudes affect donations. In this paper, we first show that 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. Second, we show that 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. Finally, we examine the dynamic relationship between political control and individual partisanship. We find that charitable contributions fluctuate based on the political landscape: Democrats (Republicans) donate less money when a Republican (Democrat) occupies the White House. Conversely, having a co-partisan in the White House increases the average and total donations to nonprofits at the state level. In addition to furthering our understanding of partisan bias, our findings demonstrate that the results of a presidential election could have significant consequences for nonprofit organizations and the populations they serve.