New Zealand, Australia and Ireland have the world's most charitable populations, according to the first edition of the World Giving Index (WGI) released this month. Compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation and based primarily on information gathered through Gallup polling, the list is being called the largest study ever carried out into charitable behavior across the globe.

The ratings are based on data collected from Gallup's WorldView World Poll, a project continually being carried out in 153 countries that represents 95 percent of the world's population. Respondents surveyed in each country number anywhere from 500 to 2,000 individuals depending on population size and access to polling infrastructure, and those polled are a representative sample of individuals living in urban centers.

Gallup asked people which of the following three charitable acts they had undertaken in the past month:

  • donated money to an organization?
  • volunteered time to an organization?
  • helped a stranger, or someone they didn’t know who needed help?
Gifts and time spent for religious groups and political organizations were counted as charitable acts. For the sake of gathering further information, the index also considered an additional question about the happiness and well-being of the surveyed population.

Aside from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, which garnered the highest WGI scores, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and Austria rounded out the top 10 respectively.

The WGI also found that the overall happiness of a population had a much larger influence on giving money than wealth, and that the older people get the more likely they are to give to charity.

The value of such a list is viewed by the WCI as a marker of cohesiveness in a society, as well as indicating something about the strength of civil society. It is also meant to celebrate and encourage a culture of giving around the world.

Here is a comprehensive table of the top 33 countries on the list and their relative scores:

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