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The left-right giving divide

December 23, 2008

This article by Nick Kristof in the Sunday Times really gave me a lot to think about. I’d often heard that liberals give far less in charitable donations than conservatives, but had no idea that it was by half. Religion – and giving to churches – is the primary reason for the disparity, since conservatives tend to give a great deal of their charity to their religious organizations, but even aside from that conservatives tend to give a higher percentage of their household incomes, volunteer more, and – get this – donate blood more.

The main hypothesis for the difference seems to be that liberals believe that the government should step in to help the poor, provide high-quality health care and education, etc., and that political change is more effective that shorter-term charitable efforts. What do you all think about the reason for the disparity? (The comments at Kristof’s blog have a lot more to say about why this might be…)

Given that the South Asian community is about 60% Democratic, and that young Asian Americans are increasingly liberal, what does that mean for giving among South Asian Americans? Will we see a decline in charitable giving? Or will we see an uptick as South Asians become more integrated into their communities and more likely to become involved in political and civic activities?

(Thanks go out to Seth, possibly our most dedicated non-South Asian reader, for bringing this article to our attention!)

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