Why don’t the rich give more? Countless studies have shown that the wealthy give less to charity than those in the middle class, even if the opposite would seem more rational. There are several reasons – and below are some of the most pressing.
Less Social Connection
One of the major reasons that the wealthy don’t give back is that they don’t have the same kind of social connections as others. At lower levels of wealth, individuals have consistent connections to other people. They realize that they need help from others to survive and are more likely to give that help in exchange. The wealthy, who tend to be more socially isolated, don’t need that help – and they can’t understand why others would need it, either. Without those social connections, giving to charity no longer seems like a rational thing to do.
A Difference in Thinking
There have been at least a few studies that show the rich as thinking differently from others. Power impacts the brain in some cases, and it rarely makes it more giving to others. When one reaches the rarified air of the truly wealthy, there’s less of an impetus to give back to others. While those in the middle class might consistently see the connections between their own actions and the help given to them by others, those in the top one percent simply may not see those connections. As such, giving to charity is something that doesn’t enter the minds of the wealthy.
Despite the other factors, the wealthy aren’t all that different from people at other levels of the economy. Wealthy people don’t like to see their bank balances go down, and many of them are more concerned with their own financial futures than anything else. While there are plenty of individuals who give a great deal of money – or who have people who can direct them to do so – many wealthy individuals simply see their money as their own and don’t want to jeopardize their own wealth in any way.
Wealth does not make you generous. In fact, it may do the opposite. As wealth goes up, compassion seems to go down – and with it, the willingness to give money to charitable causes.