March 24, 2014
How does receiving public assistance affect an individual’s charitable giving and volunteering? Using the 1994 to 2005 Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and 2005 Center on Philanthropy Panel Study (COPPS) data, we use a series of comparison group and propensity score matching approaches to overcome sticky issues of selection bias and to explore this question. We find that neither current public assistance receipt nor the amount of public assistance income has any effect on an individual’s charitable contributions of time and money. Cumulative past public assistance appears to suppress charitable giving but not volunteerism.