Previous studies have suggested that high-income people are less generous than low-income people. To assess links between income inequality and the generosity of high-income individuals, researchers analyzed results of a previous nationally representative survey of 1,498 people that included a giving opportunity.
The survey results suggested that high-income people from states with high income inequality were less generous than high-income people from states with low income inequality.
The authors further conducted an experiment with 704 people who were presented with simulated information portraying their home states as having either high or low income inequality. When presented with an opportunity to bestow raffle tickets on another participant, high-income people were less generous when they were shown simulated high income inequality data than when they were shown simulated low inequality data, suggesting that wealthy people may be less generous when they perceive high inequality.
The authors found no association between inequality and the generosity of low-income individuals.
The results challenge the view that high-income people generally exhibit low generosity and suggest another possible consequence of income inequality on societal welfare, according to the authors.