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New Englanders deemed generous

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People in Massachusetts, and New England as a whole, are not as tight-fisted as some studies suggest, two new studies says.

More New Englanders contribute to charity than do people in other parts of the country, says one study, “A Closer Look at New England Giving,” conducted by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University using survey data and IRS information.

More than eight in 10 New Englanders give to charity, the study says, compared to fewer than seven in 10 households nationally.

New Englanders who contribute to secular nonprofits give an average of $1,190, compared to $863 by their counterparts outside the region, but average religious giving is less, with New England averaging $918 compared to $1,743 outside the region.

The lower average religious giving results in total giving per donating household in New England of $1,694, 11 percent lower than the national average, the study says.

But overall giving per household, a measure that factors in households that do not give, is $1,347, or 7 percent above the national average.

Another study, “Geography and Generosity: Boston and Beyond,” was commissioned by the Boston Foundation and conducted by the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy.

The center analyzed the Generosity Index, which ranks states based on how much residents give to charity, and found fault with the Index’s methodology, which relies on tax returns to construct its ranking.

Doing so creates an inherent bias against high-income states in the Index, states that tend to fall low in the ranking, and in favor of low-income states, the center says.

The center proposes a new measure of generosity based on giving of all residents as a percentage of income of all residents, a measure that would cause Massachusetts to rise to the sixth-most-generous state, compared to its ranking of 44th in the Generosity Index.

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