Generosity Inequalities

Due to the important diversity among givers, we summarize the main trends we found throughout the book with regard to significantly different social status influences, namely the role of gender, race/ethnicity, age, and education in giving.


Our analysis in chapter 2 finds men more likely than women to engage in political action, and women more likely than men to donate money. Among volunteers, men claim on average more volunteer hours than do women. The analyses in chapter 3 find that among givers, women are more likely to take Planned, Habitual, or Selective approaches to their giving process, while men are more likely to take Impulsive or Atypical approaches. In chapter 5 we explain the differences in donation amounts by gender as mediated by social psychological and affiliation factors. The personal orientations and social relations that support greater giving are more common in women than men.

In chapter 2 our case studies evidence the male correlation with high levels of political activism and the female correlation with giving money, including one of the male high givers crediting his wife as the reason for their donations. The case studies also express the salient role of gender in expressions of relational generosity (e.g., “As a mom ...”). Among some of our female respondents, we see relational generosity can go so far as to lose the boundary of self. This was not observed in the male interviews. More women were represented in the second circle of generosity of relational-parental generosity. Given the persistent expectation that women have a more salient role in the daily life of the family, it is not surprising that they would have a greater focus on generosity through familial and immediate relational ties. We propose that one of the ways men and women “do gender” is through their giving behaviors.

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