Santa States: The Most Generous in the U.S.

The United Santas of America

Christmas is a special time for many Americans, who like to convince themselves at this time of year that it really is better to give than to receive. But which are the most generous states in the country? To find out, MainStreet looked at two categories of spending largesse on an individual and state level. We looked at state-wide contributions to the national retail economy and individual-level donations to charity. Here is how we broke it down:
  • Using the most recent data (2009) for retail trade from the Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract, we ranked the states on absolute sales across seven categories: furniture, electronics/appliances, health/personal care products, clothing, sporting goods and media, general merchandise, and miscellaneous stores. We didn't control for population, since the states that put the most money into local and national stores make a generous contribution to the national consumer economy as a whole.
  • Using the most recent data from the census and the IRS (and compiled by the Fraser Institute), we ranked states on two metrics  the percentage of taxpayers who donate to charity and the average proportion of yearly income they donate  to order them based on their philanthropic generosity.
Combining all of these numbers into one cumulative ranking, we rank the top 25 here to establish who the "Santa states" are. To find out which states came in at the bottom of the rankings, check out the accompanying feature on "Scrooge states" on MainStreet. Photo Credit: istolethetv