7 Responses

  1. Terence Wood
    Terence Wood September 5, 2014 at 8:34 am

    One other point which I think is important (and which we do cover in the paper) is that, once we include a control variable for Greens support in the regressions (both for support for ODA and donations), the negative association between religion and these types of support for aid disappears (it doesn’t become positive but ceases to be different from zero in a statistical sense).

    To my mind this suggests that it is perhaps not religiosity per se that is negatively associated with support for ODA but rather a particular conservative type of religious belief, which is also strongly negatively associated with Green party support (quite a strong conservatism it should be noted, strong enough to not be positively associated with Coalition support on first preferences). At least that’s my thinking thus far, although I’d like to do some more work in this area.

  2. Justine Carroll
    Justine Carroll September 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Interesting although not surprising findings – consistent conclusion from all research on who gives and why is that giving is largely emotive, personal and a reflection of ones values.
    Regarding religion, other research I’ve encountered cites that the more often someone attends religious services the more likely they are to donate to charity and donate larger amounts, so attendance at services would appear to be more a predictive factor than identification.
    Potential explanations for the relationship with education includes: association with higher incomes; education draws people into memberships/communities of participation (e.g. professional associations, alumni) that can then bring about higher levels of solicitation; greater comprehension of social issues and needs.

    1. Terence Wood
      Terence Wood September 3, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Dear Justine,

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      On religion, as noted in my comment below, you may well be right on this (in the case of government ODA at least one other study finds frequent service attendees are more supportive, even if the religious as a whole are not.) Unfortunately, the census data we use don’t provide us with information on frequency of of attendance. This is a matter we hope to study more in the future.

      On the education effect. Because we ran regressions controlling for income, we know education’s impact is not via income. However the other suggestions you make are very interesting and definitely worthy of further investigation. We will try our best to do this as we take the research forwards.

      Thank you for your input.

  3. Terence Wood
    Terence Wood September 2, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Ben, in the interests of fairness I should note that Jono wrote most of the summary.

    You’re right the religion finding is slightly puzzling. Note though, that it’s not just there for ODA but also for donations to NGOS. (Your explanation of ODA vs private donations on the other hand is, I think, very plausible for why we find a negative Coalition effect on support for ODA but not on NGO donations).

    Possible explanations for the negative religious finding are:
    1. Problems of ecological inference (a technical issue – discussed in the working paper, probably an unlikely explanation).
    2. (For NGO donations) religious people giving in other ways (i.e. through tithes) rather than individual donations to ACFID members).
    3. (For ODA) a certain type of religious person filling out the vote compas form in much higher numbers (and the difference being one not accounted for by weighting, which is unlikely).
    4. The fact that our measure of religiosity is simply proportion of the electorate who told the census enumerator they were religious (all we could do with our data; although, note, we also got the same result when we replaced ‘religious’ with ‘christian’). Other work has found, for example, that frequent attenders of religious worship are more supportive of aid. So perhaps our result is being driven by the only-nominally-religious.
    5. Some other data issue I haven’t thought of.

    That said, the result seems pretty robust. So I think it’s real (even if I’m not yet certain). Like you I want to see a lot more testing, which is exactly what we hope to do in future work.

    Thanks for your comment.

    1. Michelle Imison
      Michelle Imison September 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Useful summation and discussion – thanks.

      On the matter of religiosity and ODA giving, it’s also possible that those who are regular service attendees give quite generously, but to NGOs that are not ACFID members and thus are not captured in your raw data. I’m thinking particularly of Compassion which – from my vague recollection (I know someone will correct me if I’m wrong) – is not an ACFID member because it chooses to use its work as a platform for proselytising… but, if included among the usual size and income rankings of NGOs, would be among the top few NGOs in the country.

      Look forward to your further work on this topic.

      1. Terence Wood
        Terence Wood September 4, 2014 at 4:14 pm

        Hi Michelle,

        Thank you that is a very good point, or actually two good points in one..

        1. On regular attendees of religious practice. Our data are census data and just tell us the proportion of the population who describe themselves as religious (or Christian – which we ran as an alternate model, getting the same results). As we discuss in the paper, the data give us nothing about frequency of attendance. And it is possible that patterns for regular attendance and associated giving might be different than those we see for people who are just nominally religious. Indeed, one oversees study has findings which suggest this is the case.

        2. On the second point, about missing NGOs, we cover this a bit in the paper. It’s true that Compassion aren’t in the dataset, but nor are MSF, an equally large secular NGO. And we know that the NGOs in the dataset comprise a very large share of aid NGOs in Australia. And these facts, along with the fact we see the same negative correlation in surveyed support for government aid, suggest the finding is real. Although — for both of the reasons just discussed — I am very keen to test it using different data. Something we hope to do.

        Thanks again.


  4. Ben Davis
    Ben Davis September 2, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Very interesting findings and great summary thanks Terence. It seems strange that religiosity has a negative impact on support for ODA. I would have thought the inverse to be true. Could it be that those who most closely align with a religion give more through their own charitable donations but don’t share the same positive view of ODA? Look forward to future research that might explain this result.

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