Barack Obama and friends constantly deride Americans for an unwillingness to pay our "fair share," but it seems we're happy to lend a hand: the United States was the most charitable nation on earth in 2011. The Charities and Aid Foundation's second annual World Giving Index found that despite economic turmoil, Americans help those in need more than any other country.
This is the second edition of the "World Giving Index", the largest study into charitable behaviour across the globe involving 153 countries in total.
Using data from Gallup's Worldview World Poll, the report is based on three measures of giving behaviour - giving money, volunteering time and helping a stranger.
The results show that the USA is officially the most charitable nation in the world, moving from fifth place last year to first place this year. Ireland is the second most charitable country and Australia the third.
Overall the World Giving Index, demonstrates that the world has become a more charitable place over the last 12 months - with a 2% increase in the global population "helping a stranger" and a 1% increase in people volunteering.
The top twenty countries reveal a mix of first world and developing nations, from regions all across the world. (Download the full report here.) Wealth, it seems, is not necessarily the definitive characteristic of a charitable country (though it certainly can't hurt):
In one year, the US' score jumped five points, as did our placement. Furthermore, we reached a score never seen before:
The list of the World Giving Index top 20 countries, shows that the USA is now measured as being the most charitable country globally, with a World Giving Index score of 60%. This is the first time that any country has reached a score of 60%.
We frequently get a bad reputation here in the US for supposed "greed" -- the world sees photos of the Occupy protests, and simply assumes that we're a nation divided between the "haves" and the "have-nots." But this study, which looks at individual behavior, reveals that the character of the American people is good and generous. It's a wonderful reminder that we live in a country rife with personal charity, even in trying times.