New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Political competition is hurting our charitable giving, study finds

Voters who live in counties with high political competition give less

Date:
October 24, 2018
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
As the U.S. midterm election heats up and the fallout of the Supreme Court nomination rings across the political divide, a new study presents a unique angle of American politics: how party affiliation affects charitable donations. Researchers representing four institutions found voters who live in counties where political competition is high give less to charity.
Share:
FULL STORY

As the midterm election nears and the fallout of the Supreme Court nomination rings across the political divide, a new study presents a unique angle of American politics: how party affiliation affects charitable donations.

In that study, published this week in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, researchers from IUPUI, University of Georgia, NC State University and Brigham Young University break down the philanthropic giving of voters in red counties vs. blue counties across the country. What they found: voters who live in counties where political competition is high give less to charity.

"The more politically divided we get in our communities, the more we're going to see consequences of that spill over into other facets of life, including our charitable giving," said Rob Christensen, associate professor of public management at BYU. "The more political competition in a county, the more suspicion there seems to be in how we spend our charitable dollars."

According to the researchers, the findings may indicate a sense among voters that they're unsure if their charitable contributions are going to go to like-minded people. The good news for charities is that donations will likely increase in red counties that get redder and in blue counties that get bluer -- something we are increasingly seeing in America.

Researchers analyzed 2012 and 2013 itemized deduction tax data from the Internal Revenue Service's Individual Master File, which aggregates information from individual income tax returns at the county level. To measure political ideology, they looked at the percentage in each county that voted Republican in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The research revealed counties with a higher proportion of Republican-voting residents give more to charity than counties with a higher proportion of Democrat-voting residents. However -- and here is a major caveat -- the researchers also found that the proportion of those voting Republican actually decreases charitable giving in counties that are not Republican-dominated.

"If we ignore other things like tax burden and political competition, then Republicans appear more generous," Christensen said, which, on the surface "supports the notion that conservative communities prefer to redistribute resources through private rather than public efforts."

In other words, Republicans don't love taxes and if taxes are high in a county, they tend to give less to charity. On the flip side, the study revealed Democratic-leaning counties are less stingy overall in redistributing their money, both through charity and government channels.

Researchers believe the findings are increasingly important as major shifts in political competition and philanthropy continue. Other research has shown, for example, that younger generations are giving less to institutional charities (think United Way) and more to charitable causes that are more closely connected to them (GoFundMe for a social-media friend).


Story Source:

Materials provided by Brigham Young University. Original written by Todd Hollingshead. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laurie E. Paarlberg, Rebecca Nesbit, Richard M. Clerkin, Robert K. Christensen. The Politics of Donations: Are Red Counties More Donative Than Blue Counties? Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2018; 089976401880408 DOI: 10.1177/0899764018804088

Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "Political competition is hurting our charitable giving, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181024085909.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2018, October 24). Political competition is hurting our charitable giving, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 19, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181024085909.htm
Brigham Young University. "Political competition is hurting our charitable giving, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181024085909.htm (accessed June 19, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES