If it were not bad enough that we will have the Greatest Generation 2 in charge, there are other reasons to be concerned about how unhelpful people are likely to become if our current society is put under economic pressure.
This paper considers the decision of Gentiles whether or not to rescue Jews during the Holocaust, a situation of altruistic behavior under life-or-death stakes. I examine the role to which economic factors may have influenced the decision to be a rescuer. Using cross-country data, and detailed individual-level data on rescuers and non-rescuers, I find that (1) Richer countries had many more rescuers than poorer ones, and (2) Within countries, richer people were more likely to be rescuers than poorer people. The individual-level effect of income on being a rescuer remains significant after controlling for ease of rescue variables, such as the number of rooms in one's home, suggesting that the correlation of income and rescue is not solely driven by richer people having more resources for rescue. Given that richer people might be thought to have more to lose by rescuing, the evidence is consistent with the view that altruism increases in income. From Mitchell Hoffman, Does Higher Income make You More Altruistic? Evidence from the Holocaust, The Review of Economics and Statistics.You cannot get a much more stressful situation then protecting Jews from the Nazis. It is definitely a situation where you learn people’s inner qualities. It appears that people within wealthier societies also learn how to be more altruistic. I suspect it is linked in with our (biological?) propensity toward gift giving as a social mechanism toward status.
In our society, in monetary terms, the poor give more than the wealthy, and conservatives give more than liberals. But this one is not a money issue. My suspicion is that the working productive poor will by habit continue to me more generous within their group. But would not too surprising to see the overall level of altruism go down.