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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Study Finds Bible Belt States Are Most Generous Givers, High Income Areas Least

It may not get much play in the MSM, but the Catalogue for Philanthropy's latest National Generosity Index finds a clear majority of the most generous states are in the Bible Belt where evangelical Christianity is strongest and household income is lowest. The least generous states are mostly in areas in which evangelicals are least common, but household incomes are highest.

Here are the Top 10, including six that are the heart of the Bible Belt and two more that are strongly influenced by it. The dollar figure in parenthesis is the U.S. Census Bureau's latest available (2004) household income figure, followed by the state's national ranking for that factor. The B indicates Bush carried in 2004. K indicates Kerry carried in 2004:

1. Mississippi ($31,642)(50)(B)
2. Arkansas ($32,983)(49)(B)
3. South Dakota ($38,472)(42)(B)
4. Oklahoma ($35,357)(45)(B)
5. Tennessee ($38,794)(41)(B)
6. Alabama ($36,709)(43)(B)
7. Louisiana ($35,110)(48)(B)
8. Utah ($47,074)(17)(B)
9. South Carolina ($39,837)(38)(B)
10. West Virginia ($31,504)(51)(B)

Now take a look at the second 10, which includes another six that are either clearly part of the Bible Belt or strongly influenced by it:

11. Idaho ($39,934)(37)(B)
12. Texas ($41,759)(31)(B)
13. Nebraska ($41,657)(32)(B)
14. North Dakota ($39,447)(39)(B)
15. Wyoming ($44,275))(23)(B)
16. North Carolina ($39,428)(40)(B)
17. Kansas ($41,638)(33)(B)
18. Florida ($41,236)(36)
19. Georgia ($43,037)(24)(B)
20. Missouri ($41,473)(34)(B)

Now, scan the Bottom 10 least generous states, which includes eight Yankee states where Southern Baptists are as scarce as common sense at a Michael Moore fan club meeting:

41. Michigan ($44,905)(21)(K)
42. Hawaii ($53,554)(7)(K)
43. Colorado ($48,198)(14)(B)
44. Minnesota ($50,860)(10)(K)
45. Connecticut ($60,528)(2)(K)
46. Wisconsin ($45,315)(20)(K)
47. Rhode Island ($48,722)(13)(K)
48. New Jersey ($61,359)(1)(K)
49. Massachusetts ($55,658)(5)(K)
50. New Hampshire ($55,580)(6)(K)

The states with the lowest household income are in the Bible Belt and that is where people are the most generous givers to charitable causes. Every one of the Top 10 most generous was carried by President Bush in the 2004 presidential election.

The most secular states with the highest household incomes are the least generous. Nine of the 10 least generous were carried by Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee.

Go here to view the Catalogue for Philanthropy's Excel spreadsheet of study data for 2000-2003, including extensive data derived from the IRS's Statistics of Income datasets on the characteristics of tax returns received from each state.