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How generous are the wealthy? Surely wealth enables citizens to give higher amounts to charitable causes, but does wealth also make people more generous? Do the wealthy give a higher proportion of their income?
Using data from the High Net Worth supplement to the 2012 wave Giving in the Netherlands Panel Survey we can answer this question. Nearly all of the 1,307 respondents (95%) reported donations to charitable causes in the calendar year 2011. Average giving amounted to €5,195.
Donations represent 1.88 of annual income and 0.3% of total wealth among respondents in the sample. The proportion of income donated by the wealthy respondents is twice the proportion donated by respondents in the sample representative of the Dutch population (0.94%).
Among the respondents in the HNW supplement, donations as a proportion of income decrease with income, from 2.2% of income in the first quintile to 1.6% in the top income quintile.
Donations as a proportion of wealth also decline with wealth: in the first wealth quintile, donations represent 0.7% of wealth, declining to 0.1% in the top wealth quintile. As a proportion of income, however, donations increase with wealth. In the first wealth quintile, donations represent 1.7% of income; in the top wealth quintile, donations represent 2.5% of income.
The source of wealth is consistently related to the level of generosity: both measured as a proportion of income and as a proportion of wealth, donations are highest among ‘New Wealth’ respondents, who earned their wealth primarily with their own business. In contrast, amounts donated were lowest among those who inherited wealth.
Methodology – Data presented here are based on a sample from a privately held database provided by Elite Research of 10,000 addresses in the Netherlands with wealth exceeding €60k. Fieldwork took place in May-June 2012 through an online survey and written questionnaires; response rate: 13%.