James Halteman reviews Arthur C. Brooks Book Who Really Cares

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is a provocative book on charitable giving in the United States and a variety of other countries. Approximately 75 percent of U.S. households make charitable contributions each year. They give away 3.5 percent of their $51,500 average annual income, with one-third of the giving going to religious causes. But there is much hidden behind these averages.

Arthur Brooks's findings, some of which are counterintuitive, are based on extensive statistics. Brooks, professor of public administration at Syracuse University, is surprised by the findings and appears to have altered his political perspective from liberal to conservative as a result of his explorations. There is much to be gleaned from this book, but some cautions are in order.

His thesis is that acts of charity are fostered primarily by conservative political and religious commitments and cultivated within a strong family context, and that such acts result in happiness, good health and more income for the giver. People who are skeptical about the government redistributing income also tend to give more. In contrast, the people who give and volunteer the least are more likely to be secular liberals from less stable families who support government redistribution programs. However, Brooks makes it clear that there are many exceptions to these tendencies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture

Posted June 27, 2007 at 6:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Tom Roberts wrote:

Ya gotta read the whole thing to appreciate this review. I’d probably disagree with the reviewer over a beer, but in this formal context I thought he did a good job on presenting the author’s good points and the reviewer’s reservations. The discussion of the statistics sounds very restrained. I suspect I would have tossed the book I philosophically agreed with at the wall over methodology.

June 27, 11:15 pm | [comment link]
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