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Why are the oldest old less generous? Explanations for the unexpected age-related drop in charitable giving


Previous research has demonstrated that the generally positive relationship between age and the presence of charitable giving becomes negative at the oldest ages. We investigate potential causes of this drop in charitable giving among the oldest old including changes in health, cognition, egocentric networks, religious attendance, and substitution of charitable bequest planning. A longitudinal analysis of data from the United States Health and Retirement Survey indicates that the drop in charitable giving is mediated largely by changes in the frequency of church attendance, with only modest influences from changes in health and cognition.

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Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Pamala Wiepking, Department of Sociology & Erasmus Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (ECSP), Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, M-building (M6-44), P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail:
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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
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