Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism -- America's Charity Divide--Who Gives, Who Do

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Basic Books, Dec 4, 2007 - Social Science - 272 pages
We all know we should give to charity, but who really does? In his controversial study of America's giving habits, Arthur C. Brooks shatters stereotypes about charity in America-including the myth that the political Left is more compassionate than the Right. Brooks, a preeminent public policy expert, spent years researching giving trends in America, and even he was surprised by what he found. In Who Really Cares, he identifies the forces behind American charity: strong families, church attendance, earning one's own income (as opposed to receiving welfare), and the belief that individuals-not government-offer the best solution to social ills. But beyond just showing us who the givers and non-givers in America really are today, Brooks shows that giving is crucial to our economic prosperity, as well as to our happiness, health, and our ability to govern ourselves as a free people.

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Who really cares: the surprising truth about compassionate conversatism: America's charity divide--who gives, who doesn't, and why it matters

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Here, economics and public policy scholar Brooks offers up impressive research on the demographics of charitable giving, revealing that religious people (i.e., belonging to any faith, they regularly ... Read full review

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This is a very controversial book, largely because reviewers tell two half-truths. One half truth is that conservatives give more, the other that liberals give less. Dr. Authur Brooks ranks four groups by their generosity.
1. Religious conservatives.
2. Religious liberals.
3. Secular liberals.
4. Secular conservatives.
The truth is RELIGIOUS people give more. Conservatives are both the most and least generous, with liberals in the middle. Dr. Brooks expected to find that liberals were the more generous givers. Let's review the research in more detail now.
The definition of liberals and conservatives (page 21). About 10% of the population classify themselves as "very conservative"; and another 10% call themselves "very liberal." About 20% say they are simply "liberal," and 30% or so say they are "conservative." 30% call themselves moderates or centrists. He defines liberals as the approximately 30% in the 2 most liberal categories and conservatives the 40% in the 2 most conservative categories.
Page 21. How they compare on charity. Conservatives are a percentage point or two more likely to give each year than liberals, but are percentage point or less likely to volunteer.
This similarity fades once dollar amounts are considered. In the year 2000 households headed by a conservative gave on the average, 30% more money to charity than households headed by a liberal ($1600 versus $1227). Page 22. This difference was not the result of income differences. Liberal families earned an average of 6% more each year than conservative families but conservative families gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle-class to rich.
The differences go on beyond money and time. In 2002, conservative US citizens were more likely to donate blood each year and more often than liberals. If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives the US blood supply would jump about 45%.
page 34. The second set of definitions concern what religious and secular mean. Most surveys ask a person how often they attend a House of worship. Religious people as defined in this book attend once nearly every week or more and make up about one third of the US population. Secularists attended infrequently, a couple times a year, or never, or say they do not have religion. The other 40% of the American population professed religion and attend sometimes but not regularly. Religious people were 25% more likely to give than secularists (91% to 66%). Religious people were also 23% more likely to volunteer (67% to 44%).
Page 35. Nonreligious differences do not explain much of the giving gap between religious and nonreligious. To understand this, imagine two women are both 45 years old, married, whites, who have an annual household income of $50,000 a year, and attended about a year of college. The only difference between them is the one goes to church every week with the other never does. The churchgoing woman is 21% more likely to volunteer. She will tend to give $1383 more per year to charity and to volunteer on 6.4 more occasions.
Page 36. Here Professor Brooks answers the question "is my religious criteria skewed?" He leaves church attendance out of it and looks at other religious behavior to show whether it has the same kind of differences or not. People who pray every day (whether or not they go to church) are 30% more likely to give money to charity than people never pray (83% to 53%). Belonging to religious congregation, irrelevant of whether one attendance or not, makes a person 32 points more likely to give (any percent to 56%). The people who say they give great effort to their spiritual lives are 42% more likely to give than those devoting no effort to their spiritual lives (80% to 46%). Even a belief in beliefs is associated with charity.People who say that "the beliefs don't matter as long as you're a good person" are dramatically less likely to give charitably (69% to 86%) and to volunteer (32


Charity and Selfishness in America 1
1 Is Compassionate Conservatism an Oxymoron? 15
2 Faith and Charity 31
3 Other Peoples Money 53
4 IncomeWelfare and Charity 75
5 Charity Begins at Home 97
6 Continental Drift 115
7 Charity Makes You Healthy Happy and Rich 137
8 The Way Forward 161
The Data on Charity and Selfishness 185
Notes 209
Acknowledgments 237
Index 241

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About the author (2007)

Arthur C. Brooks is Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The author of Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, Brooks writes widely about the connections between culture, politics, and economic life in America, and his work appears frequently in the Wall Street Journal and other publications. He is a native of Seattle, Washington, and currently lives in Syracuse, New York, with his wife Ester and their three children.

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