Generosity Across the Income and Wealth Distributions

Authors: Jonathan Meer, Benjamin A. Priday Date: June 2020

Working paper 2007
Despite widespread interest, there is little systematic evidence on the relationship between income, wealth, and charitable giving. Although the media suggests that the well-off are stingy, the misuse of data, incomplete controls, inappropriate empirical specifications and a lack of accounting for the influence of outliers make these claims questionable. In this paper, PERC’s Mary Julia and George R. Jordan, Jr. Professor of Public Policy Jonathan Meer and co-author Benjamin A. Priday use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to provide descriptive statistics on this relationship. The authors find that, irrespective of specification, donative behavior increases with greater resources.

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Keywords: Income, wealth, charitable giving, donations