Who is truly more compassionate: liberals or conservatives? In his new book, Arthur Brooks uncovers America’s true givers, and shows that many long-assumed stereotypes --- such as the idea that liberals behave more compassionately than conservatives --- are flatly wrong.
When Arthur Brooks first began writing WHO REALLY CARES: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, he expected to find ample proof that liberals are the more charitable group in America. When early findings led to the opposite conclusion, he assumed he had made an error. He re-ran analyses and got new data, but in the end he had no option but to change his views.
Yet the stereotype persists that liberals are the compassionate ones in America, and conservatives are mean and selfish. But in fact, the “Charity Divide” between conservatives and liberals is quite wide in a number of ways. For example, households headed by a conservative gave 30 percent more money to charity in 2000 than liberal families, despite earning less money, on average. “Charity differences go beyond money, too,” says Brooks. “For example, in 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often than liberals. In fact, if liberals and moderates gave blood like conservatives do, the blood supply in the U.S. would immediately jump by about 45 percent.”
In WHO REALLY CARES, Brooks also demonstrates a huge charity gap that follows religion. On average, religious people are far more generous than secularists with time and money --- not just to their churches, but towards non-religious charities as well. “If I can ask you just one question to predict whether you give and volunteer, it will be about your religious participation --- whether you go to church regularly or not,” says Brooks. “Religious folks are by far the most charitable people in America today.”
With hard facts and common sense, Brooks reveals the huge impact that charity has on American culture, on everything from religion to prosperity, politics and family life, and even our national identity. For conservatives who believe in compassion, and for liberals who will find themselves challenged to live their ideals, WHO REALLY CARES is an eye-opening book. It reveals that the essence of democratic life is giving, and that the stakes include our health, happiness and prosperity.
Here are just a few facts that came from Brooks’ research:
© Copyright 2011 by Arthur Brooks. Reprinted with permission by Basic Books. All rights reserved.