Friday, May 19, 2006

Republicanism, Charitable Giving, and Economic Freedom

Thanks to Mike Rappaport (The Right Coast), I found the most recent edition of the Economic Freedom Index for each of the 50 United States. I then created this graphic:The lower the index, the greater the degree of economic freedom enjoyed by the residents of a State.

It's not surprising to find that Republican-leaning States enjoy more economic freedom than Democrat-leaning States. Whatever Bush is -- or isn't -- with respect to "big government," persons who vote Republican tend to favor a greater degree of laissez-faire than persons who vote Democrat. (In fact, Bush's record, properly interpreted, is on a par with that of other post-Great Society presidents. It isn't worse, as some pundits would have you believe.)

Residents of Red States not only enjoy more economic freedom (e.g., lower tax rates), they also are more open-handed than residents of Blue States when it comes to charity. That is, they not only talk about the value of voluntarism, they do something about it. So-called "Republican greed" isn't "greed," it's a legitimate desire to decide for one's self how best to apply the fruit's of one's labor. Democrats would nevertheless persist in calling Republicans "greedy," but by the standard of charitable giving, "greed" is a Democrat trait:Details and sources are given in this post, where I wrote:

[G]iven the same tax burden -- Red States outstrip Blue States in charitable giving.... [T]here is a strong negative relationship between taxes and charitable giving. It doesn't show up in the data for the Blue States, which are almost uniformly parsimonious when it comes to charitable giving, but it's definitely there in the case of the Red States. For all States (with the exception of Wyoming, the far "outlier" at the top of the graph), a linear regression yields a one-to-one negative relationship between the tax burden and charitable giving; that is, for every 1 percentage point rise in the tax burden, after-tax charitable giving drops by 1 percentage point.

I draw two conclusions:

  • There is a significant, positive relationship between Republicanism and charitable giving....
  • Taxes crowd out charity (no surprise)....