In 1996, the General Social Survey asked a large sample of Americans whether they agreed that, “The government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality.” Those who “disagreed strongly” with this statement gave an amazing twelve times more money to charity per year, on average, than those who “agreed strongly.” People disagreeing strongly also gave nine times more to secular causes than those agreeing strongly, and even gave more to traditionally progressive causes, such as the environment and the arts.He also states (but does not provide a source):
The working poor are America’s most generous givers when we measure giving as a percentage of income. Most studies have shown that the working poor tend to give away between four and five percent of their incomes, on average, while the rich give away between three and four percent. (Both groups give away significantly more than the middle class.)Now, it makes sense that if one believes strongly that it's the government job to deal with poverty, one would be less inclined to work to solve the problem for them and vise versa. But I was a bit surprised at the degree of difference so I googled around a bit.
I found several other conservative articles which cited exactly the same result, but not the actual source study. The GSS website (which makes their data available) is here, but they don't have any convenient summaries on this question and I don't have time to dig into the question further at the moment. If the result proves consistent (The GSS survey is conducted every 1-2 years) it would be an interesting confirmation of the idea that large institutionalized safety nets tend to discourage people from actively taking care of each other themselves. Since I do believe that our Christian duty to help our neighbors has to do with personal, family and local action rather than the use of the nation state to perform "charity" via taxes and hand-outs, I would have expected such a result. But frankly, the delta in charitable giving is much more than even I would have expected. I don't know if I should suspect it on that basis or take it that I'm even more right than I realized.