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Is Civil Society Becoming a Luxury Good?

American Enterprise Institute

September 2, 2021

Key Points

  • This quantitative analysis suggests that the supposed decline in civil-society participation is not geographically uniform throughout the United States. Some lower-income communities have a strong civil-society presence if they are also major regional jurisdictions such as county seats or otherwise geographically isolated and large in population compared to the surrounding area.
  • Strong civil-society participation in poorer communities requires a robust sense of connectedness with higher-income communities.
  • Modest revisions to the tax code, targeted tax incentives, and a revitalization of the “settlement-house” model can encourage higher-income donors and civil-society groups to engage constructively in lower-income communities.

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About the Author

Howard Husock