Give, give, give: Indonesians are the most generous people in the world according to study

The Indonesian flag. Photo: Flickr
The Indonesian flag. Photo: Flickr

In Indonesia, there’s a saying that goes, “It’s better to have your hand above than below,” meaning it pays to be charitable. It appears that many Indonesians live by that principle as the country was named the most generous in the world in a new study.

UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) released the 2018 edition of its “World Giving Index” report, which ranks over 140 countries according to how charitable their people are based on data from 2017. The report was first issued in 2010 and Indonesia has been climbing up its ranks over the last few years, coming in 22nd in 2015, 7th in 2016, and 2nd last year before rising to the top in this latest edition.

The report, primarily based on data from the Gallup World Poll, surveys respondents from participating nations about their giving behavior. Specifically, this report focuses on three aspects of giving: helping strangers, donating money and volunteering time.

Indonesia came out on top after receiving an aggregate score of 59%, which puts them level with Australia (although we edged out our neighbors from down under on decimal points). Indonesia didn’t score particularly high on helping a stranger (46%) and volunteering time (53%), but shone on the donating money aspect (78%).

The report doesn’t specifically say why Indonesians like to donate their money, but one possible factor is that, being a majority Muslim country, many Indonesians are religiously obligated to give zakat (alms), which is one of the main pillars of Islam.

Indonesia displaced Myanmar in the top spot, the latter dropping to 9th after having been number 1 since 2014. Singapore is the only other Southeast Asian nation to make the top 10 this year and had one of the most improved scores of any country in the world, coming in at 7th after having ranked as low as 64th five years ago.

Globally, the report concluded that people are more willing to help a stranger or volunteer their time, but the cumulative score for donating money dropped to its lowest level since 2013. Donation levels also increased among developed nations while it had fallen among developing countries.

You can read the full report here.

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