Can giving buy happiness?
Charitable giving can be shaped by countries, cultures, faiths, religions, wealth, and a number of other factors. But a survey by the Charities Aid Foundation in Britain studied 153 countries and reported that there’s a stronger correlation between a country’s degree of happiness and giving than wealth and giving. The results of the “World Giving Index 2010,” survey (click the link for the full report) were perhaps surprising given that people often associate wealth with the ability to give.
But, the report notes, the level of giving in a total country indicates something about the strength of civil society—the extent to which individuals are willing and able to contribute towards addressing the needs of others both in their own localities and across borders.
The ongoing poll by Gallup analyzes the charitable behaviour of 95% of the world’s population. The poll’s main question ranked each country by its giving:
Which of the following three charitable acts have you undertaken in the past month:
1. Donated money to an organization?
2. Volunteered time to an organization?
3. Helped a stranger, or someone you didn’t know who needed help?
Some countries are giving in some areas but stingy in others. The most generous countries tend to be Protestant.
Based on the highest percentages of people who answered yes to all three categories:
Top Ten Giving Countries
- Australia, 57 percent
- New Zealand, 57 percent
- Ireland, 56 percent
- Canada, 56 percent
- Switzerland, 55 percent
- USA, 55 percent
- Netherlands, 54 percent
- United Kingdom, 53 percent
- Sri Lanka, 53 percent
- Austria, 52 percent
The survey reports: “Overall, 20 percent of the world’s population had volunteered time in the month prior to interview, 30 percent of the world’s population had given money to charity, and 45 percent of the world’s population had helped a stranger.”
It will be interesting to track those figure over years and decades to see whether humanity is gaining in its humanity.
While the study tracks happiness as a predictor of giving, are the two reciprocal? Do you think giving creates happiness?
Image: PUERTO SAN JOSE, Guatemala (July 8, 2011) Lt. Audrey Koecher, Judge Staff Advocate for Continuing Promise 2011, talks with Guatemalan children during a Give-a-Kid-a-Backpack community service event at Escuela Republica de Japon. Continuing Promise is a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to the Caribbean, Central and South America. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Wojciechowski/Released)