Think this is for real?


Michelle Malkin, who’s just up the road from me in the Empire of the Blogs, says that it is. It says the top 25 states, ranked by the gap between earnings rank and charity-giving rank, went red while the bottom 7 and the bottom 9 of 10 went blue. I’m not sure if the formula they use is the best way to rank things, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable, anyway.

Hopefully, once this word begins to spread, ingenious types will develop three or four “purple” versions of the table, plus maybe another couple versions with relative populations and highest elevations within state borders worked in.


  1. Another fascinating statistical analysis. I’d be curious to see the following adjustments: 1) Adjust for disposable income: I live in New York City. We have the highest tax burden in the country (Federal, State and Local income taxes, also pretty high real estate taxes). We have less money left over after taxes to make charitable contributions than someone who lives anywhere else. The ‘Having Rank’ should be based on how much money you bring home AFTER taxes. 2) Adjust for cost of basic necessities: Food and housing is generally cheaper in the states with better ‘Generosity Index’. States with high cost of living are penalized because the incomes look high, but people really have a lot less money left over after paying for necessities than someone making the same salary in a low cost-of-living state. 3) Median vs. Mean: Numbers like these can look drastically different if you look at median values or mean values. Demographers and economists often want to see both because it can give you insight as to whether an effect is due to social or demographic forces. For example, it could be that red states are more charitable. Alternately, it could be that red states have narrower distributions of incomes. (I have an hypothesis of why the results could be due purely/mostly to different income distributions. I could go into it if you’d like. I’m not arguing it necessarily explains the difference, only that I think it could make logical sense under certain income distributions.)

  2. Ranking states on their generosity is an interesting idea, but the way this has been done is flat out wrong. By comparing ranks on wealth to ranks on giving — and considering those states that ‘move up’ more as being more generous — there’s an implicit handicap on wealthier states because they have less room to ‘move up.’ Poorer states do better, and the richest state couldn’t do well even if it gave away everything it had because it could never rank higher than ‘1’ on giving. Secondly, the measure assumes every taxpayer in a state donates at the same rate as those who itemize their donations on their taxes. Bad assumption, since only about 30% of tax filers itemize and the charitable donations already account for 60% of all donated moneys (corporations have to make up a big chunk of the rest, I would think). If you want to see what states are hampered and helped by these assumptions, take a look at my analysis of the Generosity Index: