Are Millennials really the most self-obsessed generation? It seems not, according to two Princeton researchers who examined charitable donations and analyzed how Millennials’ philanthropy stacked up against earlier generations’. Their preliminary findings were published in the American Behavioral Scientist under the title, “Are Millennials Really So Selfish?” by researchers Harvey Rosen, John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics and Business Policy Emeritus at Princeton University, and recent Princeton graduate Peter Koczanski.
“My colleague and I are both interested in the economics of altruism,” said study author Harvey S. Rosen told PsyPost
. “The altruistic behavior of the Millennials (or lack thereof) has received a lot of attention, and we were struck by how little careful statistical work has been done to back of various assertations by pundits and others. We knew of a dataset that might be useful in investigating this question, so we decided to see what we could learn from it.”
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The researchers examined Philanthropy Panel Study, which included information about the philanthropic behavior of nearly 15,000 U.S. households for every other year from 2001 to 2015. Researchers analyzed information from that dataset for the study.
The researchers found that after controlling for a number of factors, Millennials gave charitable gifts slightly less often. However, all things being equal, it was discovered that when they did give, they were more likely to donate more – sometimes up to 16% more.
“What we found is that if you take into account a whole bunch of variables that influence giving – such as income, wealth, ethnicity and so on – then the likelihood that a Millennial makes a gift is someone lower than the preceding generations,” said Rosen on the Fresh Research Podcast. “But if you look at just the people who make a gift, the amount of the [Millennial] give tends to be more than their predecessor generations.”
No word yet on whether contributing to their friends’ Kickstarters count as charitable giving.