Why Philanthropy Matters: How the Wealthy Give, and What It Means for Our Economic Well-Being

Zoltan J. Acs. Princeton Univ., $29.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-691-14862-5
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While philanthropy is generally seen as a positive practice, few view it as a sustaining capitalistic force that drives the economy. Acs (Entrepreneurship, Geography, and American Economic Growth) seeks to change this in an informative and enlightening, though dense, look at philanthropy’s many positive repercussions. The author views philanthropy as an equalizer that contributes to a more just society by helping those most in need. Expanding upon philanthropy’s ability to create opportunity to “better society in the long run,” he identifies four defining virtues of capitalism: opportunity, entrepreneurship and innovation, wealth creation, and philanthropy. He devotes chapters to each and assesses how America’s track record with these traits compares with that of other major countries. He also explores how philanthropy strengthens capitalism by supporting new cycles of innovation and enterprise as well as offering a way for old wealth to be reinvested. Particularly refreshing is the epilogue, which advocates changing tax laws to create incentives that reward “investments that would benefit society.” Economists will find this book helpful in crystallizing the long-term impact of philanthropy and the degree to which it influences the American economy. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-691-17796-0
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