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The Most Honest Cities Around the World

The Most Honest Cities Around the World

I came across an interesting experiment in Reader’s Digest, in which reporters prepared 192 wallets with a name, cellphone number, family photo, coupons, and business cards, along with the equivalent of $50 in local currency.  Sixteen cities were selected and twelve wallets were dropped in each city:  on sidewalks, near malls, and in parks.  Then the reporters waited to see how many wallets were returned.

Obviously this is more of a fascinating experiment than a scientific study, but all the same, the results are amusing.  Here’s how the top 16 cities ranked, along with the number of wallets returned in each:

Helsinki, Finland—11 out of 12 wallets returned

Mumbai, India—9 out of 12 wallets returned

Budapest, Hungary—8 out of 12 wallets returned

New York City, USA—8 out of 12 wallets returned

Moscow, Russia—7 out of 12 wallets returned

Amsterdam, Netherlands—7 out of 12 wallets returned

Berlin, Germany—6 out of 12 wallets returned

Ljubljana, Slovenia—6 out of 12 wallets returned

London, England—5 out of 12 wallets returned

Warsaw, Poland—5 out of 12 wallets returned

Bucharest, Romania—4 out of 12 wallets returned

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—4 out of 12 wallets returned

Zurich, Switzerland—4 out of 12 wallets returned

Prague, Czech Republic—3 out of 12 wallets returned

Madrid, Spain—2 out of 12 wallets returned

Lisbon, Portugal—1 out of 12 wallets returned (by a couple from Holland, visiting Lisbon)

Read the full Reader’s Digest experiment here.

Given the reputation of Canadians for being “nice,” it would have been good to see a Canadian city on the list.  The reporters observed some people put the wallets in their purse or backpack and make no effort to call but many people responded favorably.  Reader’s Digest also asked the people who were kind enough to return the wallets whether they were tempted to keep them.  Their answers are interesting and reassuring.  Jeanette Baum, a music teacher in Zurich, Switzerland said: “I know what it’s like to lose something…the ‘not knowing’ afterwards is terrible. That’s why I responded as fast as I could.”

In a world where media so often focuses on the dark side of humanity, it’s refreshing to know that there are still a lot of good and honest people around the world.

What would you do?  Would you make the effort to return a wallet to the owner?  What do you think of the global results?  Do you have ideas as to how we can create honest cities?

Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on my site, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

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Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and 17-time book author and board-certified doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: 60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and her new book The Probiotic Promise. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World's Healthiest News at to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.


+ add your own
6:08PM PST on Jan 11, 2014

Very interesting. It would be interesting to know if the areas they were left in the countries were fairly equivalent in terms of crime and need.

4:46PM PDT on Oct 21, 2013


5:15PM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

I'm from Canada and have never lost my purse, but have had it stolen from the office. The person who reported it - minus the money, came from the poor, crime-ridden part of Vancouver where it had been dumped. I've also had money stolen from my purse - in another office in Vancouver (I had been advised to place my handbag 'in a safe place' beforehand).

The 'nice' Canadians have also damaged my cars on a regular basis since I moved here 17 years ago. I've had theft from my Apt in West Vancouver - by someone gaining access climbing from a balcony alongside... I've regularly had items stolen or broken during moves. Five new expensive umbrellas were either been stolen or broken, having been left in Reception areas. Also a distressing loss, was an expensive diamond cluster earring that disappeared from a recreation centre, after it had become loose during exercise class and dropped off.

My most expensive theft was that of a diamond ring which had been left to me by my mother, who had passed away in my home country. That really was an emotional loss and a deep shock as it was worth C$9,000! My new insurance plan didn't cover it..

I confess, I've reacted to the author's claim that Canadians are 'nice'. When one has experienced so much theft and loss, it's not possible to agree with this claim of niceness.

9:47PM PDT on Oct 14, 2013

Thank you very interesting.

9:54AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

Good to know. But the ideal would be that all the wallets returned to the owner.

8:44AM PDT on Oct 11, 2013

No wonder Paris, France, is not making it into the list at all.....shame on us....

11:00AM PDT on Oct 10, 2013

Very glad to see a U.S. city was closer to the top of the list. I'll admit that I'm a little surprised that Spain and Portugal were at the bottom but I haven't visited either to be familiar with their cultures ... and perhaps never will now that I have read this.

6:34AM PDT on Oct 10, 2013

Interesting, thanks.

2:10AM PDT on Oct 10, 2013


12:37AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

I think this was a waste of your talent, Michelle :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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