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THE POOR ARE RICH IN DEEDS People with the least means are giving the most. Although people of modest means are less likely to volunteer than affluent Americans, they are more likely to give food, money or shelter. Research has traditionally found large “civic gaps� between people with higher income and/or more education and those with lower income and education. On a question about traditional volunteering there was a large difference between respondents in lower and higher income brackets. This year, we have broadened the definition of service and asked our participants about various ways in which they have been helping others. Among non-volunteers, respondents in the lower income brackets were more likely to have given food, money, or shelter to those who were in need.

When combining all forms of service, the civic gap is much smaller than the gap for the traditional definition of service (i.e., volunteering). Instead of (and often in addition to) cleaning parks, tutoring children, or helping out in an animal shelter, low-income people were opening up their homes, feeding their friends, and sharing their wealth (even if they are themselves needy) to support others.

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Lower-Income People Serve in Civic Engagement