Good Heart, Good Health: Why Charitable Givers Are Often Healthier

Good Heart, Good Health: Why Charitable Givers Are Often Healthier

When it comes to charitable giving, a growing body of research highlights the correlation between generosity and positive health outcomes, like stress-reduction and lower blood pressure.

At the same time, research has found that one way to encourage philanthropy is to increase tax subsidies for charitable donations.

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Now, a new study connects all the dots by linking charitable tax subsidies to better health.

In the study, Baris K. Yörük, a professor at the University of Albany-SUNY, analyzed levels of charitable giving between 2001 and 2007, as well as the way the tax code changed over that time period. Yörük also asked his participants to rate their own health and report any medical problems.

The results provide strong evidence for a link between charitable subsidies and better health. Of those participants who did not give to charity or itemize charitable contributions in their tax return, 4.9% said they were in poor health and 20.5% said they were in excellent health.

Yet among those subject to the highest subsidy rate—at least 35%—just 0.8% said they were in poor health and 36.6% said they were in excellent health.

Moreover, the study found that higher charitable subsidies decreased the likelihood that participants suffered from lung disease, arthritis and certain psychological and emotional issues.

To be fair, the effect of charitable tax subsidies on health is small: Yörük estimates the subsidy would have to jump nearly 200% for survey respondents to increase just one point on the five-point index that he used to measure health.

Want to start giving—and reaping whatever health benefits you can—but feel like you’re already stretched too thin? Find out how to make room in your budget for charitable giving, all year round.

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