If you eat out often enough, you probably have Strong Feelings about leaving a tip for your server, and unless you're Milo Yiannopoulos or my late grandmother, you may consider yourself to be a generous tipper. (Yiannopoulos has been known to shamelessly signing his receipts from the No Tip Crew, while my grandmother refused to squeeze out more than a quarter, regardless of the level of service.) But, according to a recent study, tips can vary based on gender, location and even who you voted for in the last election.
In a survey of 1,002 adults, CreditCards.com learned a lot about tipping behaviors, discovering that the median tip, regardless of who or where you are, is around 18 percent. Those who paid for their meals with credit cards were more likely to leave a more generous gratuity than their cash-carrying counterparts, and those who earn more than $75,000 annually are more likely to leave a larger percentage for their server. (That last one might explain why Shaq recently had no problem giving his shocked waitress $4,000 after a meal).
The study also suggests that Democrats typically leave less than Republicans and Independents; only 46 percent of Dems said that they usually tipped more than 15 percent, compared with 59 percent of GOPers and 57 percent of Independents. Millennials tip less than Gen X-ers, who tip less than Baby Boomers.
Men also left a median tip of 20 percent, while the median for women was just 16 percent. But the biggest discrepancies seem to be between various regions of the country. In the Midwest and Northeast, the average and median tip is 20 percent. In the West it's 18 percent. But in the South, that number falls to a lowly 15 percent.
The researchers believe that several factors could explain the difference between Northerners and their Southern counterparts, including income discrepancies or just being unaware that their tipping habits are below average. "[Northerners] likely have more tipping encounters than people in other parts of the country, so they quickly learn what's expected," Michael McCall, a professor of hospitality business at Michigan State University told CreditCards.com. "Tipping behaviors are directly related to your knowledge of tipping customs and norms."
All of this is interesting, especially since some of these trends have held true for more than a decade. In 2001, American Demographics learned that women out-tipped men (at the time), but Boomers and Northerners were still more generous than younger people and Southerners. Michelin conducted its own survey in 2014 and, sure enough, Millennials were, frankly, garbage at tipping, as were Southerners; in that study, 22 percent of those below the Mason-Dixon line said they tipped less than 15 percent.
Regardless of who you are or where you live, try to treat those waitstaffers and bartenders well. It's not an easy job, those who do it are often underappreciated, and some of those folks may have gotten stuck waiting on my grandmother.