Lost Wallet Test Reveals the World’s Most Honest City

Have you ever lost your wallet while on vacation and doubted your chances of ever getting it back? Well according to a recent study, your chances may be greater than most if you’re visiting Helsinki, Finland, Mumbai, Budapest, or even New York City.The study, commissioned by Reader’s Digest, tested the honesty of pedestrians in 16 cities across the globe by dropping 12 wallets containing cash (approximately $50), photographs, and contact information in high-traffic locations in each city and detailing how many were returned. Of the 192 total wallets, nearly half were returned, but while the honest returnees varied across age and gender, the experiment revealed markedly varied results from city to city.

Helsinki, Finland ranked “most honest” of the 16 cities as 11 of it’s 12 abandoned wallets were returned, while in Lisbon, Portugal only one lone wallet was returned and in Madrid, only 2. New York City faired rather well on the morality scale, ranking third alongside Budapest with 8 out of 12 wallets returned.

The study also noted that a country’s wealth had no effect on that city’s return rate.  While only 5 wallets were returned in London, 9 were returned in Mumbai.

“Even though some of the cities only had one wallet returned of the 12, it was so inspiring to see how many people were honest worldwide,” Diane Dragan, Executive Digital Editor of Reader’s Digest, told Passport. “Most people who turned in the wallet said, ‘It’s the right thing to do’ and explained how they were driven by emotion – they had experienced something similar with their own possessions, or had seen the family photos we had planted and realized its value to the owner,” she added, “Every wallet, whether returned or pocketed, told a story.”


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