Clear evidence that education tends to attract people with a philanthropic bent has come from a study of charitable legacies in Northern Ireland since 1930.
Educationists comprised the most generous group - 26 per cent of them made charitable bequests in their wills, compared with just 6 per cent of engineers, the least giving group.
Norma Dawson, a law professor at Queen's University, Belfast, led a team of researchers in the study. The findings, based on an examination of all wills admitted to probate in the province in 1937, 1967 and 1997, are published in a book, Dying to Give? Trends in Charitable Giving by Will .
The researchers say that the finding about educationists may be a reflection of women's prominence in the field, since women are generally more charitable than men. Women comprised 77.8 per cent of those who worked in education and left charitable gifts, and almost 60 per cent of women leave gifts to charity compared with about 40 per cent for men.
Educationists, farmers and civil servants were most likely to give to medical charities, but no doctor gave money to a medical charity in either 1967 or 1997.
The percentage of legacies to benefit children has fallen since the 1930s, while that of gifts for animal welfare has increased.
People without children are seven times more likely to leave bequests to animal charities. But they are also seven times more likely than people with children to leave gifts to children's charities.