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The Link Between Income, Income Inequality, and Prosocial Behavior Around the World

Macchia, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-9558-4747 & Whillans, A. V. (2021). The Link Between Income, Income Inequality, and Prosocial Behavior Around the World. Social Psychology, 52(6), pp. 375-386. doi: 10.1027/1864-9335/a000466


The questions of whether high-income individuals are more prosocial than low-income individuals and whether income inequality moderates this effect have received extensive attention. We shed new light on this topic by analyzing a large-scale dataset with a representative sample of respondents from 133 countries ( N = 948,837). We conduct a multiverse analysis with 30 statistical models: 15 models predicting the likelihood of donating money to charity and 15 models predicting the likelihood of volunteering time to an organization. Across all model specifications, high-income individuals were more likely to donate their money and volunteer their time than low-income individuals. High-income individuals were more likely to engage in prosocial behavior under high (vs. low) income inequality. Avenues for future research and potential mechanisms are discussed.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 Hogrefe Publishing. This version of the article may not completely replicate the final authoritative version published in Social Psychology at It is not the version of record and is therefore not suitable for citation. Please do not copy or cite without the permission of the author(s).
Publisher Keywords: income inequality, prosocial behavior, income, volunteering, donating
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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