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Are there any longitudinal studies measuring this? Are Americans becoming less or more helpful to their neighbors, less or more generous, less or more selfish, etc.?

I am primarily looking for changes over decades, as I want to compare it to other trends that I suspect of taking place over that time frame.

  • @Brythan: I edited the question to keep just what it is asking about. I still think it's not a good question; too broad even like this. Since the OP seems to have little interest in improving his question, maybe you should work on it further. – Fizz Aug 15 '18 at 20:39
  • Well, so long as we're boldly editing the question, I boldly edited out the parts that I found problematic while keeping the part that I found answerable and on-topic. I also added a timeframe based on my estimate of how long the original question's trends would take to appear. – Brythan Aug 16 '18 at 2:26
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The answer can well depend on the time frame. But some recent trends:

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each year after 2000, charitable giving increased by one or two percentage points until 2008, when the recession started and contributions began drying up. While much of the decline in charitable contributions can be linked to shocks in American’s personal finances, that’s not the entire story. By 2012, many had experienced a partial recovery, yet the likelihood of giving to charity kept falling, declining by 6 percentage points compared to 2000 (after controlling for factors such as wealth and income). This provides evidence that forces stronger than individual circumstances drove the decline in giving, says Jonathan Meer, the lead author of the study. “It could be that the uncertainty from the Recession has had a lingering effect. Giving tends to be habit-forming,” Meer said, pointing out that the Great Depression made many people more frugal long after the economy had recovered.

So the recession appears to have had a deeper psychological impact on generosity, which has to rebound.

  • +1, I would note that there are alternative interpretations, such as people taking a closer look at finances, stopping automatic donations, and in the case of volunteering, lacking time time (or desire) to volunteer following (re)employment. (Particularly in young people; I was in high school at the beginning of the graph, and "volunteer to build up your resume/college application" was pretty heavily pushed when I was going through, which conversations with younger cousins suggest is no longer true). – sharur Aug 15 '18 at 23:38
  • Don't forget the $10K to $15K per year in additional medical expenses incurred by typical middle class families thanks to unACA. If the study failed to account for that then it is a meaningless study. – Dunk Aug 17 '18 at 19:41

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