Nov 23, 2013

Rich people are stingy

Increased wealth does not correlate to increased giving, despite what one might think. Generally, actually, the more people earn, the less they give. Not in total dollars, of course, but in proportion to what they earn. 

While many, as Jesus said, "have of their abundance cast into the offerings," rich Americans are much less generous in casting abundance than are the those who have less to cast.

Crouch notes that this is why people are never able to "afford" giving more than they already do.

According to Giving USA, the number one reason rich people say they don't give more is that they don't believe their money will be used wisely. They also say, when asked, that giving only results in increased requests for money. 

Those may be excuses, though, rather than reasons. Financial advisors give a different set of answers when asked why their wealthy clients don't give more than they do. They say their clients don't give more because they want to leave their money as an inheritance. Further, they said that often the rich don't consider themselves rich (or rich enough) to be giving away money.

Some -- such as the folks at Acton Institute -- have argued that the rich give less because they're taxed more, but that doesn't seem to be true. Cutting taxes so the wealthy get to keep more of their income has no effect on rates of giving. Raising taxes doesn't seem to cause giving to go down. The president of Acton has said that "Private charity tends to be inversely related to growth of government welfare" and that when "budget cuts go into effect, people will reach deeper into their pockets to help those genuinely in need," but that's only wishful thinking. The facts don't bear that out.

When the economy is better, people give more and when the economy is worse, people give less.

Except, of course, on the individual level. When people's personal finances are doing better, they give less, it would appear. When they're doing worse, they tend to give more.

It may counter intuitive, but the data shows that rich people are stingy.