Charities Aid Foundation has taken a look at countries doing charitable things — giving money, helping a stranger, or volunteering time — and guess where the U.S.A. ranked? Number five. Which is not horrible, but also maybe not as good as it could be, considering the wealth of resources we have in this country. Then again, the group believes that giving is related to how happy people are — which might be why good-time countries like Australia and New Zealand (and then Canada and Ireland), trumped us.
(We tied with Switzerland.)
Other, less wealthy nations, like Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone, did pretty well too, indicating that it’s not all about money.
People living in contented countries gave more than people living in unhappy ones. There was a much stronger correlation between happiness and giving than wealth and giving.
Most people “gave” by helping strangers, which makes us wonder how New York City would fare.
But how did they gauge something as vague as “contentedness”? By asking this question:
“Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to ten at the top. Suppose we say that the top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you, and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand at this time, assuming that the higher the step the better you feel about your life, and the lower the step the worse you feel about it? Which step comes closest to the way you feel?”
The U.S. averaged a 7.2.
At the very bottom of the list were Ukraine, Burundi, and Madagascar, with only an average of 20 percent of their populations ever “helping a stranger” and a hating-themselves ranking ranging from 5.2 to 3.8.
Well, we’re happy we don’t live there.