Does getting older make you more generous with servers?
According to a survey from Creditcards.com, baristas and other servers are better off when serving baby boomers. The credit website found boomers are more likely to open their wallet than other generations, leaving a median tip of 20 percent of the bill on average.
That’s higher than millennials (16 percent of bill), Generation X (18 percent) and the Silent Generation (15 percent) when it comes to gratuities.
“It’s not surprising that baby boomers lead the pack when it comes to how much they tip because they’re at their peak earning potential,” Cornell professor Michael Lynn says of the results.
But boomers aren’t the only group with deep, open pockets. If you’re a Republican, male, and/or Northeasterner, you’re also more likely to be a top tipper.
Battle of the sexes
While men and women are equally likely to tip at a restaurant, men in the study say they are more generous. Most, 59 percent, of men leave a tip over 15 percent, compared to 47 percent of women.
That desire to tip isn’t limited to restaurants though. CNBC reported 52 percent of men left tips around the winter holidays, compared to 42 percent of women. Servers are seeing the trend, and some think it’s a male way to show off.
“All of the really big tips I’ve gotten have been from men, and some of the really bad ones have been from groups of women,” says a server at an upscale restaurant in Henrico County, Virginia. “I think sometimes men tip more because they’re trying to impress someone.”
But women tip more often than men in certain situations, such as:
- At the hairdresser/barber, where they tip 79 percent of the time compared to 74 percent of men.
- When getting coffee, with women tipping baristas 46 percent of the time compared to 41 percent of males.
- Hotel housekeepers get tipped 47 percent of the time by women. Men only leave a tip for them 36 percent of the time.
Lynn says he thinks women are more likely to tip for those jobs because they are held more often by women. The also may know firsthand what messes the men and boys in their life can make.
Tipping skews white and to the political right
Despite pushing for policies that help the working class, Democrats fall short when it comes to leaving a tip for them. Compared to Republicans and independents, who tip 15 percent of the bill at 59 and 57 percent respectively, only 46 percent of Dems leave the same tip amount.
Republicans and Independents also are more likely to tip baristas and hair stylists the same, while all three tip housekeeping the same. No word on if tipping more helps your party’s performance, though.
When it comes to race, white Americans leave a tip slightly more often than their Hispanic and black counterparts. Nearly all, 94 percent, of white people say they leave a tip all or most of the time, while 82 percent of Hispanics and 78 percent of African Americans say they do the same.
Lynn said in a previous study he conducted, two-thirds of black people and one-third of Hispanic people did not know that it was an American norm to leave at least a 15 percent tip. Richard Feinberg, a professor at Purdue University who has studied tipping, says that tipping habits are often learned from family members.
“A lot of tipping behavior is learned behavior; you learn from watching your parents, so if your parents don’t do it, how do you learn,” Feinberg says.
When it comes to jobs by location, service workers in the Northeast have it best. A 15 percent tip is standard from 62 percent of customers, followed by the Midwest (57 percent), West (51 percent) and South (46 percent).
The Northeast also leads the way when it comes to leaving a gratuity for barbers and housekeepers, but the Midwest and West are better with showing love financially to baristas. Out of all the areas, the South gets the worst rap with tipping.
In terms of average percent, Southern states are the only ones in the study with a tipping average of 15 percent. They also are the least likely to tip for hair services, with 17 percent from there opting not to leave a tip for their barber or stylist.
So what can you do to be a better tipper? Acknowledge the average tip in America is around 18 percent and make sure to leave something for your servers, unlike the two percent polled who did not pony up a tip.
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