Religion causes charity

It doesn’t cause war, but it is clearly correlated in a causal sense with charitable giving. And yet, these statistical facts somehow never seem to find their way into any of the equations concerning the value of religion to society:

Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals….

Americans give sums to charity equivalent to 1.67 percent of G.N.P., according to a terrific new book, “Philanthrocapitalism,” by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green. The British are second, with 0.73 percent, while the stingiest people on the list are the French, at 0.14 percent.

Kristof’s column is an admirable attempt to shame liberals into giving more… and not just in the form of self-serving contributions to college endowments either. Of course, it’s not likely to be successful, because it’s not possible to shame the shameless.