Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Spirit of Giving II - The Statistics

About a year and a half back, in the post “The Spirit of Giving”, I mentioned that Sri Lanka is a nation of givers.  Well, apparently hardcore statistics also seem to indicate that as well. In this year’s World Giving Index (WGI) that has just been published, Sri Lanka as a nation ranks #9 overall in a survey done across 135 countries. Averaging the rank over the last five years, it comes in at #8.

The survey was conducted to determine the spirit of giving of a country by asking what percentage of people in a nation a) helped a stranger b) donated money to charity and c) volunteered their time.

The highest and lowest percentages for a) helping a stranger is 79% (USA) and 22%(Cambodia), b) that for donating money is 91% (Myanmar) and 4% (Yemen and Georgia) and c) that for volunteering time is 53% (Turkmenistan) and 3% (Yemen).

Myanmar and the USA top the overall rankings with a 64% overall generosity rating. Myanmar ranked #1 in donating money and #2 in volunteering time but was not that keen to help strangers coming in at #63. The USA is #1 in helping a stranger, joint #5 for volunteering time and #9 in donating money.  Myanmar’s high rank in giving time and money might stem from its Buddhist traditions despite the country being under the yoke of a military junta for decades and the #1 ranking for the USA in helping strangers and its good showing in the other two categories maybe a testament to that country’s tradition of welcoming any and all and the spontaneity of its people to quickly help someone in trouble despite general perceptions of the nation as a whole being a selfish capitalist bear.

The tradition of giving is high in Britain, Australia and New Zealand as well. Ireland’s Celtic culture is probably behind its top ten ranking (#4). Many South American nations rank in the middle (#30s - #90s) along with most Middle-Eastern countries excepting conflict affected regions which rank lower. Most African nations rank lower along with nations of the former Soviet Union. Cultural bias based on regional geographies  is perhaps seen in these demographics. The highest ranked Muslim Majority country is Indonesia (#13) followed by Iran (#19) while most others rank in the middle range. Why this is so could be an interesting anthropological exercise since Islam ranks giving quite high amongst its human priorities. Perhaps other regional or denominational factors affect the ranks. The four nations with a Theravada Buddhist tradition, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Thailand rank high (#1,#9,#11,#21). Japan and France are both ranked at #90 with their ranks for helping people at #129 and #134 respectively so if you are in either of these two countries, it would be best to know that you are pretty much on your own!

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The high rating for Sri Lanka was largely due to the fact that it came in at #3 in the “volunteering time” category with 50% of the nation doing so and ranking just 3 percent points behind the leader Turkmenistan.  It ranked #40 in helping a stranger with 56% of the nation doing so and #17 in donating money with 56% of the nation doing so. Sri Lanka’s overall rank of #9 is against an overall percentage of 54% of the nation's population living in a “spirit of giving”. The highest percentage for Myanmar and the USA is 64%. Further, Sri Lanka is way ahead of other South Asian nations excepting Bhutan (polled for the first time this year) which came in at #11. The next highest ranking is for Pakistan at #61.

Overall it seems that people are far more willing to throw money at charity than invest their time for no personal gain. Surveying other statistics, the lowest rankings for donating time or money is around the 3-4% mark with that for helping a stranger at 22% indicating that overall, people are more inclined to help a stranger than engage in other charitable acts. Additionally, it seems as if the escalation of global youth unemployment rates has negatively affected the “spirit of giving” of this demographic which should be a cause for concern for our future. Natural disasters in a nation are seen to marginally spike up the giving element whereas conflict in general seems to have the opposite effect with regions that are in conflict scoring lower. However, Iran, which the world believes to be in general turmoil ranks #19 indicating that it is a nation that is capable of high levels of generosity and perhaps, also indicates a general level of peace with itself. On the contrary, a general stinginess of spirit is seen in developed countries such as France (#90), Japan (#90), Sweden (#40), Germany (#28) etc.  Sri Lanka ranking this high also lends credibility to the claim that it is basically doing just fine although various political agendas seem to claim otherwise. In fact, in the post-conflict era, Sri Lanka has shown marked increases in generosity across the three areas polled.  

1 comment:

  1. I propose to analyse the motive or intention behind the giving,,,
    Then we shall be able to understand the motives of Burmese and Sri Lankan as selfish and self-cantered when compared with the other top nations.
    Myanmar and Sri Lanka are “one-type Buddhist” countries, So they help to a stranger or donated money to a charity as an investments to get more merits to be used in future (next birth …)
    so real motive or intention are also to be understood.


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