Anyone who has donated his or her time or money will tell you: it feels good to give. New research also indicates that a charitable lifestyle not only makes people happier, but physically healthier, too.
A recent Wall Street Journal article profiles research findings that found that donating to charity may improve a giver’s physical and emotional wellbeing. This same study also suggests a link between increases in charitable tax subsidies and improvements in people’s perceptions of their own health, which is recognized as an indicator of future healthcare use and mortality rates.
The research hypothesis was built around published medical and public policy research indicating that giving to others improves health and that tax subsidies significantly increase charitable giving. Researcher Baris K. Yörük, an associate professor of economics at the University at Albany-SUNY, overlaid those ideas and set out to explore whether increasing tax subsidies positively affects health.
The Journal spoke with Yörük about his findings, which include:
Yörük’s research is not the first to connect positive health outcomes from acts of giving. Dr. Stephen Post has conducted multiple studies into the giving-living connection, the results of which are shared in his book, “Why Good Things Happen to Good People.” His research includes a fifty-year study showing that people who give during their high school years have better lifelong physical and mental health. He also references additional studies showing that older people who give live longer than those who don’t, and that helping others has been shown to bring health benefits to those with chronic illness, including HIV, multiple sclerosis, and heart problems.
If you already believe that philanthropic activity is good for your soul, you can take additional comfort in knowing that it just might be good for your body, too.