In terms of helping out your neighbor, the U.S. is (almost) No. 1.
The U.S. is the second most generous country in the world, according to the U.K.-based CAF America, an international nonprofit organization that’s part of the World Giving Index and that promotes effective giving and philanthropy worldwide. Myanmar came in first place with an overall score of 66% — meaning 70% of people (up from 66% last year) say they have helped a stranger, volunteered their time or given money to a charity in the past year — while the U.S. came in second place with a score of 61%, unchanged from 2015. The two were tied for first place in 2014. This year, Australia was third place.
In the U.S., 165 million Americans said they donated money to a good cause (63%) unchanged on a year ago, while the proportion of people volunteering time increased to 46% from 44%, and those helping a stranger dipped to 73% from 76% last year. Myanmar’s ranking is largely driven by high levels of participation by donating money (91% versus 92% last year) and volunteering (55%, up from 50% in 2015), although it has seen an increase in the proportion of people helping a stranger this year (63%, up from 55% in 2015). This year, the World Giving Index surveyed 148,000 people in 140 countries.
The high scores are likely to be a result of Theravada Buddhism practiced by a large proportion of the population in Myanmar, whereby followers donate to support those living a monastic lifestyle, the report said. The increase this year may in part be due to a widespread sense of optimism ahead of the country’s first elections last year, following years of military rule. Although the amounts given will be very small, they still have significant religious meaning and so individuals give regularly, sometimes daily. Myanmar is classified by the World Bank as a lower middle income country, while the U.S. is a high income country.
The proportion of Germans saying that they helped a stranger in the month prior to interview has also dropped by six percentage points since last year.
The U.S., a nation built on the notions of liberty and freedom and immigrant, is ranked No. 1 of industrialized countries and also in terms of dollars given. The measurement for donating money is based on the number of people who give money — and not on the actual dollar amount donated — and on those who say they have volunteered their time and helped a stranger. To put this in context, the U.S. has a gross domestic product of around $18 trillion compared to just $65 billion in Myanmar, according to the World Bank.
Uzbekistan features in the Top 20 for the first time. Turkmenistan has experienced the biggest move up the rankings, rising 56 places to 15th, largely due to a threefold increase in the number of people volunteering their time compared to last year. Burundi was ranked at the bottom of the countries in the Index, with China, Yemen and Lithuania just above them.
Germany has dropped out of the Top 10 countries for helping a stranger by number of people. The proportion of Germans saying that they helped a stranger in the month prior to interview has also dropped by six percentage points since last year, with a number of other Central and Western European countries seeing drops on the same measure.
China ranked on the bottom of the list. Of course, people may be inclined to exaggerate their generous spirit in a survey, but Ted Hart, chief executive of CAF America, the questions are phrased in a specific way with a short time frame to help prevent that. Some example questions include: “Have you helped a stranger or someone you didn’t know who needed help in the past month?” And, “Have you donated money to a charity in the past month?”
“Americans should be proud of their long tradition of giving to good causes and helping others which makes the U.S.A. the most generous country in the Western world. That culture of supporting people is at the heart of being American,” he says. “It’s humbling that people are becoming ever more generous around the world. With so many things that divide us, the natural human desire to help others is genuinely something that unites all of us.”
This article was originally published on Marketwatch.