Comments about ‘Studies try to find why poorer people are more charitable than the wealthy’

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Published: Friday, May 25 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

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Oh My Heck!
Vernal, UT

Poorer people understand what it means to be poor. Obviously. But because they understand that, they are willing to give of what little they have to share with someone who has less. It isn't for the tax deduction, or the notice of others, but rather because of a shared understanding of what it means to be without.

Taylorsville, UT

I think its because the wealthy have better money management skills and can spot the fraud in many of the so called charities. Then you have to factor in that the more money you have the more debt they usually have and money is a tool, not an asset.

I think I am the exception and I think there are many more like me that these social behavior studies tend to over look because we don't fit in with their research criteria which is usually biased and created to meet one of two elements in their pass/fail studies which reduces the size of study group.

The majority of all studies in any subject looking for predictable and biased results with well versed questions all of them colored gray, that's so they can filter out answers and groups that don't fit their expectations.

What is a penny worth to a poor person? Nothing, but a million of them to the rich running a charity means a hundred thousand dollars of which 95% they get to keep, the other 5% pays their workers in $1 hamburgers.

Salt Lake, Utah

Makes sense in many ways. Folks with money seem to have a sense of entitlement where they come first and others come second where folks without money feel more 'equal.' Also seems, in a general way to reflect the differences between Democrats and Republicans where the latter have more and the former have less.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Not ONE comment in the article about the relative level of religious observance between the two groups, "rich" and "poor"

As far as I know, ALL major western religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam (sorry, I don't know too much about eastern religions) teach charity as a basic tenet.

Leave it to Cal Berkeley to ignore something as basic as religion.

Bountiful, Utah

Many people who fall into the wealthy category give, but they give anonymously, they don't report it on their taxes and they don't otherwise broadcast it. They have learned to give that way for many reasons, including to avoid organizations and people who will approach them with their hands out. These kinds of studies will never be accurate.

Salt Lake City, UT

Rich people can detect fraud in charities? Even if that were true then there's still plenty of good charities so why would they not compensate by donating more to the good ones if they're going to refrain from giving to the fraudulent ones?

"Then you have to factor in that the more money you have the more debt "

Yeah but the income:debt ratio is better for rich people than for the poor. Even if the rich are making 150k and paying out 100k in expenses, that leaves 50k left than say someone making 10k and paying 9k in expenses where only 1k is left.

"that these social behavior studies tend to over look because we don't fit in with their research criteria "

I think you're just annoyed that this doesn't agree with your own conceived narrative.

oakley, idaho

Most any poor person could have told them this without any study. What amazes me, and tells us the researchers general income bracket, is that the researchers were surprised at all.
The good news in this is, if the wealthy are made aware, they also tend to give generously.

Rocket Science
Brigham City, UT

Actually the statistical sampling is pretty good. Why do the less affluent give a greater portion of their substance than those who have more was the question? If we feel a tinge of guilt in reading this article or if it make us mad perhaps we need to sit down and decide if we ourselves are giving enough and if we will commit to doing more. It does bring happiness and satisfaction to those who give.

Interestingly it seems like, and I have no studies readily available to back, it up but the less affluent are often also willing to give of their time and efforts to help.

To all of us who claim to be Christian we would be well to remember the words of Christ and do our best to follow:

If thou lovest me thou wilt remember the poor and consecrate of thy properties for their support.

Remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted for he that doeth not these things the same is not my disciple.

Flower Mound, TX

Poor people have felt the pain of going without. Because of this they have the ability to feel the pain of others and to empathize with them. They will be the first to pull money out of their pockets, even though it may be very little. However, I also believe that people who have not felt the pain of certain situations can develop sympathy and have a desire to help. I believe that Christlike people do this. It demands an unselfish heart and a desire to know how to help others with the blessing they have. It also demands that a person be wise that they do not help people to become weak. There is wisdom in knowing when to help and when to withold. It is very tricky. It is easy for a rich person to feel that the poor just aren't trying, when they may actually be trying; but they need alot of encouragement. It is also easy for a person who has money to give it to someone who would use it wrongly.


We read in the scriptures and in "Jesus The Christ" that is hard for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven. I agree, I think it would be very hard to be rich and not be greedy and prideful.

metamora, IL

I wonder if the 2% from the more affluent includes all the various taxes they pay which also go to support the poor (property taxes cover police and ambulance services, libraries, education, etc; state taxes go towards education, medicaid, etc; federal taxes go towards food stamps, unemployment, WIC, etc.)and other charitable causes. Perhaps the affluent give a smaller percentage to charity because they are giving a much larger percentage to various government agencies. (for example, of my $94K, the feds retained $4K, IL kept $3K, and I pd. $4K in property tax = nearly 12% of my income. I am guessing that few who earn $10K or less pay that much in taxes.

I also wonder if the poor give more because they are more susceptible to respond to phone solicitors. Also I wonder who the most giving among the poor are -- the elderly? The working single parent? The Hispanic immigrant?

Contrary to the bogus conclusions drawn by a few of the posters here, I think this study leaves a lot of questions unanswered and a ton unasked.

Salt Lake City, UT

There is a similar Give more/Give less correlation between correlation between conservative/liberal and religious/non-religious. This has been verified in numerous studies over several decades.

More paradoxical to me than the poor being more generous than the rich to me is finding that conservatives are so much more charitable than liberals. Usually by several orders of magnitude.

Of course, were the measure one of generosity with the assets of --others--, my guess is that liberals would prevail by a long shot.

metamora, IL

Furthermore, idealizing the poor is as wrong as vilifying the rich because as King Benjamin points out:

24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

As a percentage, I am certain that there are just as many poor folks who covet what the rich have as there are rich who are greedy and unwilling to give.

one old man
Ogden, UT

AmPatriot, you're up in the night and hallucinating again. While there are disreputable charities out there, there are a number of very easy to use fact checkers that allow us to learn which ones to contribute and which to avoid.

The answer to why we who are not wealthy are more generous is very simple. We've been there and done that -- unlike the Mitts of the world.

Orem, UT

The study seems to equate "helping the poor" with "giving to organized charities". It is certainly A way but it is not the ONLY way to be generous.

I wonder how much the study is skewed because they don't consider the "Give a man a fish...teach a man to fish.." idea. Poor people have less resources so when they want to help out they may put a few dollars in the Christmas kettle or donate to the Red Cross. Rich people tend to start businesses which give lots of people jobs in addition to donating a smaller portion of their overall income to charitable organizations.

When a rich person puts a million dollars on the line to start a business and employs a dozen workers, that is not considered charitable giving (especially if the business turns an actual profit, gasp..) but it probably does more to help out others than just donating that money to a homeless shelter.


The data that the poor are more charitable has been demonstrated in various studies, not just this one. Additionally, people at lower income levels don't itemize on tax returns and are less likely to benefit from deductions for charitable donations. Wealthy people actually get a greater financial return from donations to charities.

Republicans/Conservatives often report that they are the most charitable, based on work done by Arthur Brookks. However, Brooks failed to consider cost-of-living in his research, which resulted in people living in high cost of living states--such as MA, appear to be less charitable. When Boston U researched the same question, taking into account cost-of-living the results were somewhat different.
Notably, more "blue" states were in the top 10. Additionally, UT scored higher in charitable giving in Boston U's work than in Brook's research.

Taylorsville, UT

Thinking about this article doesn't really make sense unless the article is meant to make the poor and charities think the wealthy are not giving their fair share to others.

You cannot measure charity by the standards this WAG study is trying to impose.

Value wise the wealthy are more generous than they are given credit for. Measuring and comparing incomes are an inequality of measurement since the wealthy usually give to charity outside the channel that the poor give to.

I don't think this study is really about how much the rich or poor give to charity, its a planted plot to make the rich look like they are not community minded and share any of their wealth in taxes or charity. This proposal is not really a study yet, its just an implication of possible differences that have not been established at all. In other words is a great big WAG.

Plano, TX

Not surprising results to me at all.

What does surprise me is someone making a statement that people give to charity for the deduction on their taxes - can they do math ? If the top tax rate was 36% - a contribution of $100 would mean you gave away $64 net. Who'd give away $64 net just to spite the tax man as a financial move ? That's not a good return on money and that's for the highest tax payers, it's even worse for the lower income.

I make $117K/yr and my effective tax rate was just over 15% last year. I give to charity because there are people who need help. I'd keep giving too even if they took away the deductions for it.

The best reason to give seems to be because we've been fortunate ourselves...

American Fork, UT

These comments crack me up. It never ceases to amaze me how people will nitpick and analyze things to fit into their preconceived ideas about the world. Perhaps if this was an isolated study coming to this conclusion I might agree. It's not.

That said I don't buy into the 'the rich are evil' ideology any more than I buy into the "the poor are poor because they are lazy" ideology. As usual the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately that leaves someone like me with no political home.

Salt Lake City, UT

The only reason the business exists is because customers are purchasing products. Rich people might create the initial jobs but it's the poor and middle class that keep jobs in place. After all, the largest concentrations of wealth at the top this past century were 1927 and 2007, right before massive depressions/recessions. A rich person might make 100x more than a middle class person, but Romney only has 4 cars, not 100 so it's the middle class who is keeping the auto companies open.

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