Countries with lower mortality rates demonstrated more generosity among their residents.

Whether you're surprising a friend with a bouquet of flowers or gifting generously during the holiday season, there's no denying that it feels good to make someone you love happy. A new study published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) now suggests that those who share more of their wealth also live longer. The team of researchers—led by Fanny Kluge and Tobias Vogt—found a strong relationship between a society's generosity and the average life expectancy of its members.

Friends hugging
Credit: Caiaimage/Trevor Adeline/Getty

In the study, researchers used data from 34 different countries from the National Transfer Accounts project to assess how resources were redistributed. They found that in South America, people share more than 60 percent of their average life income with others. The mortality rates are lower there than in sub-Saharan Africa, but higher than in western Europe, Australia, Japan, and Taiwan.

By contrast, France and Japan are two countries with the lowest mortality rates of all the countries studied. There, the average citizen shares between 68 and 69 percent of their lifetime income. "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," says Fanny Kluge.

This isn't the first study that has studied the correlation between generosity and mortality rates. A 2010 study conducted by Brigham Young University found that survival rates were 50 percent greater for those with stronger social relationships compared to those with lesser or no social bonds. Whether you're sharing your income by tipping generously at a restaurant or bar, donating to a cause that you're passionate about, or buying a friend a special gift, your generosity may just pay off in the long run.


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