News Columns & Blogs

Be more generous, like the poor

Like the biblical account of the widow who gave "out of her poverty," today's poor are more generous than the rich. Americans in the lowest fifth of income levels gave 4.3 percent of their income to charity, compared with 2.1 percent for those in the highest fifth, according to a McClatchy analysis of 2007 data. Those with the second- and third-lowest income levels also gave a higher percent of their income to charities than the wealthiest Americans. The poor may be more generous because they are more likely than the wealthy to come in contact with and empathize with the needs of others. The poor also have a higher percentage of women and elderly and people who are religious, all of whom tend to be the most generous. It's also noteworthy that, unlike the wealthy or middle class, the poor generally are unable to deduct their charitable contributions on their tax returns, because they don't have enough itemized deductions. Yet as with the widow in the Bible, the poor rarely receive public praise or attention for their giving.