How Charitable Were the Elites of the Dutch Golden Age?

Henk Looijesteijn, M.H.D. van Leeuwen, Pamala Wiepking*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

Onderzoeksoutput: Bijdrage aan wetenschappelijk tijdschrift/periodieke uitgaveArtikelWetenschappelijkpeer review


We study the charitable behavior of the wealthiest individuals in a very affluent and unequal society, that of the Dutch during their “Golden Age” (late 16th to the 17th centuries). Did these wealthy elites share their prosperity with those less fortunate? Using rare data from printed sources and wills located in archives, we study their inter vivos giving as well as their charitable bequests. Our study shows that the elites were surprisingly uncharitable: Only 15% made documented life-time gifts, and their bequests were valued around 1% of their wealth. Charity was embedded in the whole social fabric save the frugal top. Our results show that burghers made more documented life-time gifts than those belonging to the nobility and regent classes. In addition, those belonging to a religious minority as well as those without children gave more. We conclude our article with implications and limitations of elite philanthropy for society.
Originele taal-2Engels
TijdschriftNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
StatusGepubliceerd - 2023


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