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“If You Were in Trouble…

… do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them?”  That’s one question in Gallup’s recent poll of 140 countries. It turns out that the wealthier and more stable your country the more likely it is that you have friends to whom you can turn. 

(Guess which country tops the list, despite its recently reduced economy.)

This makes intuitive sense to me. Yet Foreign Policy’s Christina Larson wrote, “Poor countries are often assumed to have relatively weak government safety nets, but also strong social networks—extended families and friends who can pitch in during hard times.”

But the desperately poor, surrounded by conflict, don’t have the luxury of helpfulness.  The more stable a political and economic culture the more able citizens are to be supportive of each other. If you lost your home long ago and don’t know when you and your children will eat next, it’s difficult to find time to help someone else.

As Steve Crabtree observed last year, “Money can’t buy happiness — but it sure seems to buy a lot of life satisfaction,” at least relatively speaking.

One side note in seeing the poll results: I’m tempted to re-visit Ireland. By country, here are the percentages of poll respondents who answered “yes”:

48% Pakistan

54% Afghanistan

62% Cambodia

62% Iran

80% China

95% United States

98% Ireland

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  1. Posted April 30, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Having worked within a country with a very poverty stricken population, I have to agree with the stats! Living day to day having to fight for everything you have in order to eat, feed your children or simply get through a day is hard enough on many of those families. Sending a child out to earn dollars for the family at 8-9 years old creates a completely different atmosphere from which a person is able to help or assist others. I live in an amazing country whereby I have the opportunity to share my guest room and my home with anyone who might need it. Where I have the luxury to invite and gather many for seasonal celebrations to eat and partake in the celebration with our family.

    How fortunate in this society in which we live, we are also offered the opportunity to share our wealth and collaborate in the success of others! Blessed are we, indeed!

    Thanks for the many amazing messages you share with us all.

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