Being generous leads to a longer life, new research finds.
People who share more of their resources with others enjoy higher life expectancy.
Scientists analysing people’s generosity across different societies found a linear relationship with average life expectancy.
In other words, the more people shared, the longer they lived.
People in France and Japan, for example, share over two-thirds of their lifetime income with others and both countries have the lowest mortality rates.
In comparison, people in China and Turkey share less than half their income and their risk of dying in the coming year is doubled.
Some countries, though, did not follow the overall pattern.
People in the US and the UK also shared less than half of their annual income, but their risk of dying is closer to more generous countries, like France and Japan.
Australia is another outlier, with people being even less generous than the US and the UK, but living longer.
The data come from 34 countries on six continents.
The amount that people earned was compared with the amount that they gave to others.
Dr Fanny Kluge, study co-author, said:
“What is new about our study is that for the first time we have combined transfer payments from state and family and evaluated the effect.”
The results showed that societies in Western Europe tend to share a lot of their resources and they also live longer.
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa like Senegal had the lowest rates of sharing and the highest mortality rates.
Despite being richer than other African nations, South Africans share little of their resources and also die earlier.
Dr Kluge said:
“Our analyses suggest that redistribution influences the mortality rate of a country, regardless of the per capita gross domestic product.”
Generosity can be individual or societal — both are linked to a boost in longevity, said Dr Kluge:
“What I find particularly interesting is that the relationship between generosity and lifetime income that we described does not depend on whether the benefits come from the state or from the wider family.”
The study was published in the journal PNAS (Vogt et al., 2020).