The always-interesting Michelle Malkin posts some info showing that Red States are more generous in their charitable giving than Blue States. In the words of one of my favorite free-marketeers, "Bah, humbug!"
This study compares mean (not median) Adjusted Gross Incomes to Charitable Deductions based on Federal tax return data sorted by state.
Several things are missing. To compare states properly there should be adjustments for differences in cost of living, including state and local taxes. There is also a hard-to-measure problem of windfall income - folks who have one high-income year (a book advance, a bonus at work, sale of stock, exercise of stock options) may normalize their charitable giving over subsequent years, not simply in the year their income ticked up. (Now ask me about Charitable Trusts!) If such transient income is more common in some states than others (likely!), this will also distort a direct comparison.
The median/mean problem can be sidestepped by looking at the raw data, which is broken down by income ranges. Unsurprisingly, the mean income within an income range is relatively constant across states. However, there are clear differences in Charitable Deductions, and the stingy states still look stingy, which takes us back to the cost of living question. Thatsaid, Utah should take a bow - go, Mormons.
Also worth remembering - there are plenty of Democrats in Red States, and plenty of Republicans in Blue States - these charts don't really match the voters with the donors.
And keep in mind - this study was designed by some Massachusetts philanthropists with an eye to spurring donors in their region:
Strategically, and though we would never claim exclusive credit for this, we think it fair to point out that in the first four years after the first publication of the Catalogue and the Generosity Index, Massachusetts giving doubled—from $2 billion to $4 billion, the highest rate of increase in the nation; New England became the fastest- growing region in charitable giving. Massachusetts has ranked higher in the nation in each of the first four years since 1997 (2001 was disruptive everywhere) than it did in every year before 1997, and in 3 out of those 4 years Massachusetts' rank in the Generosity Index rose to an unprecedented 47th in the nation, from our accustomed slot of 50th in the years 1991-6.
MORE: Barrons ran a national map based on a similar study two years ago