Steven Scansaroli on Why Poor People Are Often More Philanthropic

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Steven Scansaroli has made it his mission to make people aware of what is known as the “compassion deficit”. This is a recognized social construction that leads to poor people, on average, being more generous than rich people. Various surveys, including information Facebook and social media posts and formal scientific experiments conducted by the top health executive of the country, have shown this. What they have shown is that, as a proportion of their income, those on lower incomes give far more to charity than those on higher incomes.

Steve Scansaroli on the Compassion Deficit

In recent news, it was once again noted that those who are members of the lower income groups are more likely to be helpful, trusting, charitable, and generous than those who have a lot of wealth. It seems that those in lower income have greater empathy to the fact that other people need help and they tend to believe more strongly in egalitarianism. Those on lower incomes often search out opportunities to give on a daily basis, helping a long term unemployed pay for an interview suit, supporting people following an accident, increasing sales in local businesses, and more. There are numerous forums online with posts that point people in the direction of anonymous giving, and these are hugely successful.

However, that doesn’t mean that rich people are only focused on their own advancement, nor that they are selfish. Indeed, research has shown quite the opposite. In psychological tests whereby participants were asked to watch videos encouraging sympathy, or in test in which people were asked to imagine themselves being part of a different income group, the results were quite shocking. Those of wealthier incomes were as good at experiencing sympathy as the lower incomes, but when lower income individuals imagined themselves as wealthier, their altruism levels dropped, whereas they increased when high income individuals imagined themselves as being poor. It seems, therefore, that there is a direct correlation between lower incomes and compassion and empathy.

To Steve Scansaroli, this is no surprise. People find it easier to identify with those in the same social constructions as them. Poor people understand what it means to be poor. The rich will give to huge causes that they come across as part of their charitable benefits, whereas the poor are more likely to go directly to a neighbor and offer assistance. That is because the rich are far less likely to find themselves facing real poverty; not because of a lack of compassion, therefore, but rather a lack of understanding.

At the same time, the gap between rich and poor is continuing to grow. It will become increasingly difficult for someone in the lower incomes to become rich, therefore, and it will also become increasingly difficult for people to project themselves onto those in other income brackets. While the rich will continue to give, it will likely forever be proportionally less as they find it increasingly difficult to understand what it means to have nothingy.