Most Honest Cities: The Reader’s Digest “Lost Wallet” Test

What are the most (and least) honest cities in the world? Reader's Digest conducted a global, social experiment to find out.

View as Slideshow


Our reporters "lost" 192 wallets in cities around the world.

Our reporters "lost" 192 wallets in cities around the world.Kathrin Harms
In each, we put a name with a cellphone number, a family photo, coupons, and business cards, plus the equivalent of $50. We "dropped" 12 wallets in each of the 16 cities we selected, leaving them in parks, near shopping malls, and on sidewalks. Then we watched to see what would happen.

Most honest: Helsinki, Finland

Most honest: Helsinki, FinlandLauri Rokto/City of Helsinki Tourist & Convention Bureau
Wallets returned: 11 out of 12. Lasse Luomakoski, a 27-year-old businessman, found our wallet downtown. "Finns are naturally honest," he said. "We are a small, quiet, closely-knit community. We have little corruption, and we don't even run red lights." In the working-class area of Kallio, a couple in their sixties said, "Of course we returned the wallet. Honesty is an inner conviction."

Mumbai, India

Mumbai, IndiaSnigdha Hasan
Wallets returned: 9 out of 12. Rahul Rai, a 27-year-old video editor, said, "My conscience wouldn't let me do anything wrong. A wallet is a big thing with many important documents [in it]." Vaishali Mhaskar, a mother of two, returned a wallet left in the post office. "I teach my children to be honest, just like my parents taught me," she said. Later that day, three young adults found our wallet and called us immediately.

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Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, HungaryPéter Zsámboki
Wallets returned: 8 out of 12. Seventeen-year-old Regina Györfi called the cellphone number included in one of our wallets immediately after finding it a shopping mall. "I remember being in a car, when my dad noticed a wallet by the side of the road," she said. "When we reached the owner he was very grateful: Without the papers in the wallet he would have had to postpone his wedding which was to take place the very same day!" However, a woman in her early sixties opened the wallet, and then entered a nearby building. We never heard from her.

New York City, U.S.A.

New York City, U.S.A.Marc Yearsley
Wallets returned: 8 out of 12. Richard Hamilton, a 36-year-old government worker from Brooklyn, found a wallet near City Hall and reunited it with us. "Everyone says New Yorkers are unfriendly but they’re really quite a nice people," he said. "I think you’d be very surprised to see how many New Yorkers would actually return [a wallet]." Not all New Yorkers were so honest: we watched a man in his twenties take money from the wallet to buy cigarettes at a convenience store. However, one of two 17-year-olds who found the billfold explained her motivation to get in touch: "I flipped through all the papers and saw the family photo and thought, 'Aw, he has two kids. We have to give this back.'" Another local told us, "It's so easy to be cynical. But especially after 9/11, that instilled companionship in everyone."

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russiamiss_ohara via Flickr
Wallets returned: 7 out of 12. Near the city's downtown zoo, Eduard Anitpin, an officer of Emergency Situations, handed our reporter's lost wallet to a security guard. "I am an officer and I am bound by an officer's ethical code," he said. "My parents raised me as an honest and decent man." Later, another do-gooder said, "I am convinced that people should help one another, and if I can make someone a little happier, I will."

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam, the NetherlandsGoffe Struiksma/
Wallets returned: 7 out of 12. Some people who found the wallet were more moved by the euros inside than the photos we planted. But Julius Maarleveld spotted the lost wallet and entered a nearby liquor store. Our reporter followed, prompting Maarleveld to speak up: "Are you here for the wallet? If so, [the clerk] is just calling... My wife once lost her wallet. It was found and returned. Isn't honesty wonderful?" Angelique Monsieurs, 42, noticed our reporter drop the wallet on her way into a supermarket and waited for her to exit to reunite wallet and owner.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, GermanyKathrin Harms
Wallets returned: 6 out of 12. Seyran Coban, a teacher in training, got to the wallet at the same time as a young man but refused to let him have it. "I didn't trust that boy. People have often treated me with honesty, and if I do the same, that's what I'll get in return," she said. Abel Ben Salem, 46, told reporters he returned the wallet because, "I saw the photo of the mother with her child. Whatever else is important, a photo like that means something to the owner." Yet a man in his early forties quickly grabbed the wallet, put it in his bag, then spent ten minutes making call after call on his phone—none to us.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, SloveniaMiha Bogovčič
Wallets returned: 6 out of 12. We asked Manca Smolej, a 21-year-old student, whether she considered taking the money when she found our wallet. "No!" she replied. "My parents taught me how important being honest is. Once I lost an entire bag, but I got everything back. So, I know what it feels like." A man in his early fifties picked up our billfold, started to dial his phone but then stopped, took the wallet, and drove off in an expensive car.

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London, England

London, EnglandMark Pringle
Wallets returned: 5 out of 12. Ursula Smist, 35, who is originally from Poland, retrieved our wallet and handed it over to her boss. "If you find money, you can't assume it belongs to a rich man," her manager said. "It might be the last bit of money a mother has to feed her family."

Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw, PolandMetaphox via Flickr
Wallets returned: 5 out of 12. Biotechnologist Marlena Kamínska, 28, picked up our wallet and hopped on the bus. Three hours later she called us after talking with coworkers. "There were those who advised me not to bother looking for the owner," she said. "But I thought that someone might badly need that money." As for the other seven wallets, they were all taken by women whom we never saw again.

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, RomaniaReader's Digest staff
Wallets returned: 4 out of 12. Sonia Parvan, a 20-year-old student [right, with Cristina Topa], found our wallet and tracked us down. "I know how it feels to lose your wallet. My mother lost it once and didn't get it back," she said. We watched another young woman pick up one of our wallets, ask two passersby if it was theirs, then examine the contents closely and place it in her pocket. We didn't hear from her.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, BrazilRodrigo_Soldon via Flickr
Wallets returned: 4 out of 12. In a commercial area, a woman in her late twenties returned our wallet—without any money. But 73-year-old Delma Monteiro Brandāo handed one back after finding it while picking up her granddaughter at school. "This is not mine!" she said. "In my teens, I picked up a magazine in a department store and left without paying. When my mother found out, she told me this behavior was unacceptable."

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, SwitzerlandReader's Digest staff
Wallets returned: 4 out of 12. Jeanette Baum, a 38-year-old music teacher, discovered our wallet and sent email and texts to our reporter after calls didn't go through. "I know what it's like to lose something," she said. "The 'not knowing' afterwards is terrible. That's why I responded as fast as I could." Meanwhile, a tram driver in his early fifties pocketed the wallet, despite the fact that the transit company runs the city's lost and found office.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech RepublicKvěta Surová
Wallets returned: 3 out of 12. Petra Samcová recovered our reporter's wallet and didn't think twice about returning it. "It’s something you simply should do naturally," she said. Not so two young teenagers walking in a suburban housing estate on the outskirts of Prague, who put the wallet in a knapsack and left in a very good mood.

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Madrid, Spain

Madrid, SpainH'anna Panofsky
Wallets returned: 2 out of 12. Beatriz Lopez, a 22-year-old student, found our wallet in an upscale downtown area with her friend Lena Jansen, also 22. "We only wanted to give it back," she said. Jansen told reporters, "I couldn't keep a purse that wasn't mine."

Least honest: Lisbon, Portugal

Least honest: Lisbon, Portugalroger4336 via Flickr
Wallets returned: 1 out of 12. A couple in their sixties spotted our wallet and immediately called us. Interestingly, our reporter learned that the two weren't from Lisbon at all—they were visiting from Holland. The remaining eleven wallets were taken, money and all.

The bottom line

The bottom line
Of the 192 wallets dropped, 90 were returned—47 percent. As we looked over our results we found that age is no predictor of whether a person is going to be honest or dishonest; young and old both kept or returned wallets; male and female were unpredictable; and comparative wealth seemed no guarantee of honesty. There are honest and dishonest people everywhere.

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197 thoughts on “Most Honest Cities: The Reader’s Digest “Lost Wallet” Test

  1. Why do we even discuss this matter…?! Once again this just gives people the chance to insult people from other countries as thieves and so on. As if this was a study or something. It’s nothing more than a lousy article! You don’t have to understand much about statistics to realize that this article is complete rubbish. I’m from Switzerland, and obviously Switzerland didn’t turn out that well in this “experiment”… But has anyone thought about that it really matters for example where you leave the wallet? In every country there’s poorer an richer places.
    I think we should just all agree, that this study is not to be taken seriously and stop insulting each other!

  2. I’m Portuguese and I can say that it’s not so hard to believe that the results of this social experiment are in some way close to the truth. Portugal, since its 74 revolution, has been loosing all moral structures. People didn’t know how to deal with liberty since and after that political and social change. If we take a look to the corruption level reports published by International Transparency, we can see there similar conclusions! How could we have been having corrupt politics for long years if we had a good moral structure in society?!?! It’s hard to accept, but it’s true. However, this is a good message, among all the others, for us to think about our future. “Is this the world we created? Is this the world we are living for?” The power to change that is in our hands. But that requires determination and moral fibre/strength of character (good principles).

  3. I’m surprised to see people passing such negative judgements on Mumbai, India.

    Being an Indian student myself who is currently studying in London, I have seen quite many of my fellas in London additionally lock or physically detach the wheels of their bikes just so that those parts won’t get stolen; something, which I had never felt as a matter of a concern in two Indian cities (other than Mumbai) that I grew up in. Coming from a so-called “corrupt” nation, I was pretty culture-shocked to see that people in this ‘developed’ world can’t even trust their bikes with strangers with single locks.

    Nor did I ever fear getting mugged by someone showing me a knife or a gun in the middle of a street in India. And this feeling of secureness, despite the tremendous poverty that exists there!

    Yes, Indian media is too loud to highlight anything bad happening there. (And we’re very thankful for it!) But that doesn’t mean that we’re a bad society. Please get over your prejudices.

  4. Not at all surprised to see Mumbai in the list. Have some most pleasant memory of meeting nice people here. Agreed that the whole of India is not at all honest, not to mention the rapist hotspot it has become, but Mumbai is certainly an exception (to an extent.)

  5. They only returned the wallet in Russia because the documents inside were in English. They were hoping for $$$ reward. Russians only return stuff when they know they can get money for it.

  6. Where’s the complete list of cities they tried it in? … or did they only try the given 18 cities included in the slide show, almost all in Europe?

  7. Well in my opinion author intended to highlight behavior of common people ,this test is really interesting.Actually i want to know the results if this test could happen in china.If i lost my wallet one day ,i hope somebody could return it to me,and i will thank the founder very much.I also won’t keep a purse that wasn’t mine.Honest is very important in our life. (zhubeiqi 11200316109)

    1. i wouldn’t return your wallet, then i would steal yo girl

  8. I’m not going to say that the Portuguese people aren’t dishonest. But right now, the situation is grim and the whole Portuguese “shtick” about being negative does not help, at all. Even the best person is “depressive” to some extent. That, like I said, added with the current economical situation will only create the “Well, free money. Even if I don’t have need of it, it sure will be useful to some extent” mentality.
    I’m speaking on behalf of the poor. Rich people in Portugal are arrogant enough to take the money out of sheer greed.
    It’s not an excuse, though. = (
    I’m sorry, people. I’m not like this and I’ve discussed this very issue with several friends and they think as I do (And I’ve seen them put such words into action).

    Unfortunately I don’t speak for a whole capital (Not the Nation. I figure the Northern and Southern parts are friendlier).

  9. The articles makes mention that one person reported that calls to the reporter didn’t work. I wonder how many of those folks you’ve reported as not returning the wallet were in the same situation and just kept it after making the attempt to return it.

    I do a couple hours of walking every day for health reasons. I find stuff on the side of the road quite often and I at the very least make the attempt to return those items. I always try to return the items in a public place so that there’s no security issues. Three times in the last year, the person I was returning the items to were joined by the police and the person made the attempt to tell the police that I had stolen the item. Always makes me feel real good as I’ve gone out of my way many times to return items.

    Gets more and more tempting every day just to ignore the items on the street or to even trash the items instead of having to deal with them.

  10. The wallet had INR 3050, which is enough to feed a (poor) family of four for about 2 weeks.
    And, in such a country where everything is cheap, and very few people are rich, that is a lot of money.

    I know India because I lived there for 3 years.

  11. India?? Mumbai?? Really??
    Last time I was in Delhi for 18 hours, I was followed by suspicious people over 4 times, heard a handful of other “tourists” saying somebody jacked their camera/wallet/phones. No thank you India.

    1. Dear India’s ‘Neighbour’, anyone can easily see who this “neighbour” really is, if only they’d open the map of South Asia. I think you’ll do good by checking the current state of your own country. Thank you, neighbour.

  12. I am from Lisbon.. Two months ago my little sister arrived home with a wallet asking me what to do with it. I immediately picked up the car and took her (and the wallet) to the nearest police station, as there were no phone number in the wallet.

    I fell shame and I felt quite surprised with this article, although I don’t deny it.

    Surprisingly even I feel with some ridiculous comments over here. First because one factor to measure corruption is simply not enough. Second, it is a small sample. And yes, there is corruption in Portugal, especially in the public sector and government.

    Countries like the Nordic ones are much healthier and therefore there are less incentives to keep what is not yours. For instance, in Norway with the equivalent of 50 dollars you drink some beers. In Portugal you can have 40 vodka shots in a normal bar. It is a lot of money in Lisbon. Some people earn less than 3 euros per hour (like I had earn a couple of years ago).

    I remember now, some years ago, I left my wallet in the train, and when I was moving out, a girl called for me with my wallet in her hands while the train door was almost closed. If I put my “personal study” here Lisbon would be a pretty honest city. Once again it is a small sample.

    Do not generalize these for all people in a city… that is non sense. There are good and bad people everywhere. I am glad I am part of the guys, anywhere I go and anywhere I am. And I learnt so during my youth in Lisbon.

  13. Sample size, sample size, sample size. Dropping twelve wallets is not nearly enough to make the kind of the claims that this article makes. Come on now.

    1. The only thing the article states is how many out of 12 dropped wallets were returned. It’s pretty straight forward actually. What part don’t you understand?

  14. This test was not reliable as the money inside the wallet was too small. How many people would be interested in $50 ? I wouldn’t be interested either. To say someone is honest just because he/she returns wallet with $50 is not logical. Put big amount of money and see whether anybody returns it. If you think a city is honest, then put a big amount of money like $3000 or more…the larger amount of money, the better, and only then true honesty can be proven!

  15. All of these comments seems to base on experiences concerning the city/nation in particular, OR if they live in that country, they reflect the result to their own behaviour if they’d come across with a missing wallet.
    I for instance, who live in Finland, wasn’t surprised about our result. I have always had my missing item back (happened two or three times), and I would always make an effort to find the owner, if I ever found such an item myself.

    I once found a mobile phone lying on the ground. I first tried to call to a number that said “Home”, but when no one answered, I did some research and found out the name of the owner’s husband. I found his number from the phone, and called him. Then I took the phone to their house personally. Not only I felt good about returning the phone, but I also loved the challenge. :)

  16. My mom, in her purse, carries cash, credit cards, ID, and (against my objections) blank checks. She lives in a suburb of Pittsburgh. She lost it twice this year. The first time, it was returned with everything. The second time, it wasn’t returned. Although the person who found the purse the second time did not try to use the credit cards, they did write 2 checks that totaled approximately $1000.
    She has a long last name that is tough for someone to write. I’m willing to bet that if she had a nice, easy name, like ‘Smith’ or ‘Jones’, they might have tried to use more checks. Needless to say, my mom no longer carries blank checks with her.

  17. Silly “experiment”. Does anyone really believe that a person’s city of residence can be taken as any reasonable determinant of individual honesty? And is this entirely a measure of honesty or is it also a measure of apathy and willingness to make an effort? You could probably choose any single city, divide it into 16 different neighborhoods, drop twelve wallets in each neighborhood and obtain very similar results. . Way too many potential variables to determine a generalized level of human honesty based on something such as location. What happens when a tourist finds another tourist’s wallet and neither party is from the vicinity of the wallet drop?
    Silly, silly, silly, non-experiment.

  18. I think the title what is the most honest cities is misleading as the test was so selective. 16 out of hundreds of city absolute misleading!

  19. how do they know all 12 were always actually found? maybe they left them in very obvious places.

  20. It never ever possible…. mumbai is 2nd honest city… maybe, mumbai has lucky this time only…. it never ever possible… indian are dishonest people in the one of the world… indian are most cheater in the world… this article really bullshit and reporter should had some connection with indian people…

  21. I’m surprised they didn’t try this in Tokyo. I’m certain that all 12 wallets would’ve been returned.

    There was an incident a few years ago where a mentally unstable man opened a window on the upper floor of an office building and tossed hundreds of thousands of Yen notes (worth about $40,000 in all, IIRC) down to the busy sidewalk. Passersby gathered them all up and took them to the police department.

  22. Yup I dated spaniard and I found her and the people she knew to be fun loving and into living in the moment but completely lacking in ethics. They consider you odd if you don’t accept stealing and cheating. Not surprised wallets not returned in madrid.

  23. Where can I check the rules followed by your called Wallet test?? Is not a very good journalistic practice to write about a result of an experience like the one you conducted without explaining exactly how the test was made. You are branding a city or the habitants of a x city as being dishonest by the simple result of a banal test. Or do you have any kind of an agenda behind this silly test?

  24. Well, that experiment seems to be intersting but it doesn’t actually show the honesty of people of that cities since all people are so different. So, arguing about which people are honest and which are not is useless.It’s so mainly because there are no bad nations in the world,there are bad people in it.

  25. must be something wrong. I’m from Romania and I can’t believe that 4 wallets return.
    Maybe that 4 finders were foreigners…

    1. agreed. gypsies are worse than blacks. also, notice they didnt even test africa. ‘we already know what would happen there’.

  26. “This is absurd!

    What scientific methods of sampling were used?

    What were the criteria to choose the cities?

    Population, race, religion, continent, country, other?

    Were Los Angeles, Newark, New York, Chicago, Miami, Las
    Vegas, and other great American cities selected for this test? If not, why not?

    Was the number of wallets “lost” proportionate to the
    population of the cities?

    Where the places where they were “lost” socially and
    economically comparable? By what standards?

    I am recommending that the Portuguese Government and
    the city of Lisbon sue you.

    If they don’t, I and thousands of other Lisbon residents
    will, as residents of Lisbon, unless you retract and apologize.”

  27. This is absurd!

    What scientific methods of sampling were used?

    What were the criteria to choose the cities?

    Population, race, religion, continent, country, other?

    Were Los Angeles, Newark, New York, Chicago, Miami, Las
    Vegas, and other great American cities selected for this test? If not, why not?

    Was the number of wallets “lost” proportionate to the
    population of the cities?

    Where the places where they were “lost” socially and
    economically comparable? By what standards?

    I am recommending that the Portuguese Government and
    the city of Lisbon sue you.

    If they don’t, I and thousands of other Lisbon residents
    will, as residents of Lisbon, unless you retract and apologize.

  28. I visited Lisbon twenty years ago. As soon as I exited the train station, I was offered “hashish?” “hashish?” by men hanging about on corners. Ten minutes later, a man sprinted down the sidewalk, followed by someone shouting to the crowd, “Stop him! He stole my purse!!” Less than 15 minutes later, another person’s purse was stolen in a similar fashion. As soon as that happened, I canceled my hotel reservations, went back to the train station, and got out of town. (I went to Figueira da Foz, Portugal instead – a far better choice!) Portugal’s a nice country, but I wouldn’t step foot in Lisbon again.

  29. This was silly, but fun. Statistically, the sample size was so small that it would be wrong to draw any reliable conclusions as to honesty of the cities involved. That being said, I do think sprinkling them around Congress would pretty much get you zero back. lmao

  30. That’s not fair… you probably put the wallet in front of the finance ministry of Portugal… it is completely normal that the wallet disappears like in the bermudas triangle… you were lucky that some tourists passed by and found the wallet ;)

  31. People seems to misunderstanding different between honesty and readiness or acknowledgement to committing a crime. Bike robberies are quite usual at everywhere, but that doesn’t tell anything about honesty of people. Maybe more about readiness for committing a crime. Returning of a wallet isn’t either real mark of honesty. Real test could be that, how many people could be ready to confess about it right away, when you ask them about it. Of course you could also check peoples background and go with small talk to find out could he or she answer truthfully, but this is something that actual isn’t any better. For example, Finnish people may feel themselves unconformable in such situations resulting half-truths, that aren’t lies, just not accurate answers.

  32. “Loose” 12000 wallets, and then make an essay around that sample.

    12 examples, and you make a ranking? Nice way to give a city a boost, or maybe not…

    Imagine the 12 wallets were spotted by 12 of the many cleptomaniacs (unfortunatelly, that’s a disease that affects people from every country) who live in the top ranked cities. Would it make those cities dishonest?

    Or imagine those 12 wallets were spotted by 12 of the most honest citizens in the bottom ranked cities. Would that make a city an “honest” city? It could be one of those cities where you’re scared to go out alone.

    A little amateur job, with not that litlle consequences, if you think about the image of a city, and how media can affect it, by slamming it, or giving it a boost.

    You should think about the consequences of your article, and maybe explain it to the thousands of people who depend on tourism, in the bottom ranked cities.

    Written by a Lisboa citizen who once returned a wallet, and didn’t had his returned in Helsinki.
    Maybe just an example? Or might it have happened? Who knows…

  33. I know it´s not excuse but Portugal has nearly 20% unemployment and Spain over 25%. I bet if Finland were in a similar situation the results would be different.

  34. Well .. this was not well conducted.
    The is completely wrong!

    As one comment says here and according to the portuguese cultural patterns….

    You MUST go to the “lost and found” section in portuguese police!
    Its more than a behaviour.. its a tradition to take there everything we find instead of calling the owner of the wallet!!!!

  35. I just see poor-rich bias. Try the richest area of Lisbon and the poorest in finland. I bet you’d be surprised. Plus 12 is not a good sample size for any of the cities mentioned

    1. Whatever… What do you know about anything… Nobody asked you to do
      this test, so be gone with your inconsequential speculations

  36. As a Finn I am not that surprised but when it comes to corruption there are a few thing to remember. Finland has belonged to the least corrupted countries for years.
    But when Finn then respond with pointing out that there is, no doubt, corruption in Finland too, they forget that the studies newer claim there is absolutely no corruption at all in Finland. It is all about a comparison between countries. But the real problem is that Finns lack the experience about corruption, they have absolutely no experience about how deep and “normal” corruption can be. If it was different then the whole idea of Finland being a less corrupt country would be silly quite frankly. I have a friend who takes people out for a test drive when they apply for a drivers licence. So there was this guy, never mind from where, who failed the test. So this guy said, OK I give you 200e. My friend looked at the guy thinking about how to politely respond. But this guy gets angry and shouts, OK 300 and if that is not enough you are a damned crook. My friend told me it was the first time since started some 15 years ago he was offered money.

  37. So, the highest corrupted (most dishonest) ones are in Lisbon, Potugal, while, the least corrupted (most honest) are in Helsinki, Finland. I would Like to know about other cities of the world on the same context please.

  38. Where are Washington, D.C., Rome, Italy, and Paris, France? Just curious!

    1. I was going to say the same thing. I know the mentality is different there so maybe they wanted to show other countries and cultures as we have seen after the tsunami how people still keep safes, money and possessions in storage waiting for their owners to claim them.

  39. In India if you had chosen Delhi over Mumbai, you wouldn’t have got any wallet back.

  40. What about Paris and Roma? Why aren’t they included in this little test since they attract millions of tourists every year?

  41. They didn’t need to drop the wallets in Lisbon. Just carrying them along on the hightstreet would have yielded similar results. :D
    BTW, I live in Madrid and when I lost my wallet with 80 € inside, a kind US girl found it and took the burden to locate me and return it unscathed .

    But on to the important thing. Did they hold the equivalent to 50 € in Mombai??? 50 €, for sure?? That’s hardly a dinner for two in Helsinki, but I reckon in India that should account for a bit more, so the “equivalent money” thing isn’t working. Not that this is a serious investigation at all, but still.

  42. I am brazilian and I’m quite ashamed that we only returned 4 wallets. Makes me sad seeing such an amazing country (and amazing people – cariocas are defintely passionate and full of life) being portrayed that way by 8 people. (and no, we don’t have the costume of returning wallets to the lost and found/police office if there is a number to contact in the object).

  43. 12 wallets per country isn’t even close to reliable data. if you’re going to do a study, do it right!

    1. George, I so agree. To be accurate, it would take a couple hundred. Ya know, Dr. Fahrenheit claimed 98.6 was the correct human “normal” body temp with a Very Small sampling. Several doctors have said that is too high or just not correct, at all!

  44. kind of silly that the test is so eurocentric. try tokyo, and i wouldn’t be surprised at all if it topped the list…

  45. hey… what about Rome, Athens, and other capitals? I found unsettling that Zurich, which by the way it’s not the capital of Switzerland, only returned 4 wallets!!! This is not a valid study, as it hasn’t valid criteria… and yes, I´m from Portugal, and I did lost once my wallet and it was returned to a police station on that same night!

  46. 12 wallets is not a substancial sample. Make tests with larger samples before you create stereotypes. You can have a good result one day and another completely different in the next. ~

  47. Madrid, Lisbon: Why are Latinos so bad. The Spanish RCC heritage does not seem to produce a great society.

      1. Yes, they run away from their countries for a better life. They invade the USA in desperation for opportunity and justice that can not be found in their native countries: Mexico, Cuba, Ireland, South America. Spain..

        1. Yeah, funny is what they found there..It times like that that they realize money is not everything. Mental sanity is much valuable.

      2. We must thank England for the defeat of the Spanish Armada; otherwise the USA could have been just like Mexico. What a disaster for humanity that would have been. The RCC does not promote honesty.

        1. Dave, my friend, don’t jump into British rescue lap so fast. Spanish Empire was so big that sundown never existed in its domains. Such amount of unexplored land for such a few number of people… Treasures, gold,… They gradually became greed with lead them to an inevitable fall. And they left good and bad things which can be studied and judged now. Greed is something innate to human beings.
          Now, do a little exercise. We have a huge crisis. Which is the greedest country we will be talking about in the future centuries about what did they left to humanity?. Think of it. See, there’s not much difference at all.

          1. Currently the RCC Latinos are running away from their societies for a better life. If the USA had become just like Mexico, well no place to run to. We might still be burning people alive to save their soul.

  48. I have traveled to 14 countries in 4 continent over 30 years. I have been robbed twice. Both times in Portugal.

    1. That’s just bad luck. I did lost my wallet once in Lisbon, and it was returned by another portuguese in a police station… 12 wallets in a random day and place can’t do a coherent study with correct data analysis… this is the basis of statistics…

  49. Ever heard of small number statistics? This study is worthless.

  50. Why didn’t you drop wallets in Asia? I bet you that in Japan, you would get all 12 wallets back. The Japanese are the most honest people I have ever known.

  51. Let me just say that this “test” is just bad science. Not only a dozen subjects don´t amount for a real statistical sampling, thus you may have major discrepancies from the majority of the citizens of that city, but also the areas of the city where the wallet was dropped may influence the result of the test. No mention was also made if there was an attempt to recover the wallets at the Lost and Found sections of the local police stations.

  52. I’m from Canada, another supposedly very honest country. I cannot vouch for everyone here but the authorities here are not very honest. It’s a small country by population but has a pretty large private sector – the often pitiful regulatory authorities are in cohorts with business. There is a lot of consumer fraud and often there is nothing the ordinary person can do anything about. I have come across officials blatantly turning-a-blind-eye on dishonest business practices, sometime affecting public safety.

  53. Do you know what happened, last time I found a wallet (in fact, it was a purse)? I took it to the police station. I didn’t call anybody. This study is so biased… most of the people (I would say 99%) I know in Lisbon would deliever the wallet. AT A POLICE STATION!
    Everytime I lost smth, I got it back, like most of the people I know. Or they gave back what they found. This article is bad, and you should feel bad!

    P.S. most of the countries are in Europe… westernised thining. pffft…

  54. The research may have been done just at wrong time. When you take a look were the least honest are found it so sign of current economical situation. Most of countries were 5 or less were returned were part of former Eastern Bloc or are currently in financially problematic situation, some times both. Of course all can’t be explained by that because of tax avoidance have been usual for long time in South Europe and bribery in East Europe. Many are claiming that there is corruption in Finland. Not like bribery, but something called “hyvä veli verkkosto”(“Good Brother Network”) were you support and give help to your friends and relatives, but isn’t it weird to call it corruption. We live an era were so many at great positions and Human Resources Offices are talking about importance of networking with different kind of people to obtain jobs and positions. Of course the judgement to give a position or a job to a friend or a relative should be based on his or hers skills, not in support that he or she can give you to gain higher position.

  55. I must have found 10 wallets and numerous items in my lifetime, and I go through great lengths to find the owners of the items or turn them over to the police. One time I found a credit card in Disney World, so I looked up the individuals name on the internet and found them on facebook and sent them a message. They never responded so I called their bank and told them what had happened and turned it over to a police Sgt. I would hope that most people are generally honest, especially over $50.

  56. Would the current economic crisis affecting Spain and Portugal have any bearing on whether the wallet was returned or not?

    1. No James. Although the economic downturn has hit hard in places like Spain, this behaviour is simply intolerable. A wallet that belongs to someone else must be returned immediately and this poor average (2 out of 12) tells something about honesty. It’s also true that big spanish cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or Seville have a growing problem with pickpockets (many of them foreigners), but unfortunately there’re many dishonest spaniards. Of course you can find a great number of nice and honest Iberian people. As an example, this week a Madrid subway driver has found a wallet with a check for 2 million dollars inside, from an american citizen, and he returned it to the owner ASAP. Just let’s say “petty crimes” in this countries are higher than average.

  57. Have you gone to the “lost and found” section in portuguese police? We have the tradition to take there everything we find instead of calling the owner of the wallet. =)

  58. I really hope no one really thinks these sorts of popular experiments are anything close to being scientific – when I was in Lisbon I was helped numerous times by passerby without any urging, and the people are incredibly friendly. I can’t say the same for London.

  59. I live in Lisbon and i have seen life here..and it is 100% true..i think
    honesty and loyalty comes from grooming..Portugal has the inherent of
    taking from others..if you come to lisbon you will see all old houses
    and antique churches..lisbon was already a big and well city even before
    some european cities came into exist..whatever today portugal has is
    not coz of portuguese people..i think its coz of some emperor….a very
    nice story i am gonna share with you about how did i lost my laptop..2
    guys came to my apartment wearing an electrician dress holding a tool
    box in their hands..i simply thought probably owner of my house might
    have called them to fix some problems..i did not give much attention to
    them..after sometime when they left my laptop was not there anymore!!
    ahhahaa..very easily they did it,,indeed !! Please be careful and attention when
    people come to your house asking for water,electrical and bathroom

    1. I am Portuguese, live in Lisbon and I was also tought not to steal or keeping things from others, like the HUGE part of the people I know. What you say is bad, because I never, ever, ever – to this date – had any problems or what so ever. Did this reporter check any police station? If I had found one, I’d leave it at the police station and not calling the owner… as simple as that…

    2. So you got robbed once in Lisbon and that makes the “test” 100% correct? I’ve lived in Lisbon for 33 years (got mugged 2 times when I was young and near the school). One time I forgot to take the money from the ATM (just left it there in the machine) in a very busy shopping center, came back a couple of minutes later and a young couple saw me searching for something, asked me to prove that the money was mine and gave me back my money. Is this significant? I got lucky, you didn’t. There is no way to infer anything from this.

  60. Can you provide the complete list of countries you conducted this activity at?

  61. Too bad the study occurred in Europe (mostly). India is the only Asian country tested. They should do it again with a wider choices of cities.

  62. lol … try phillipines… if you drop 12 of that wallet you will lost 13… you know why? because the wallet of the one doing the dropping will be pick pocket too… so al in all you will lost 13

  63. The sample is quite insufficient. And it’s really important to know the exact places where the wallets were dropped. In my limited universe, lisbon central area is known for having many pickpockets.

  64. Funny to see India on the list every day someone steals a purse or a mobile here.

    1. All big cities have such problems. During my student days in NYC I and my two roommates were mugged at least (!) once, and our apartment was burglarized…

      1. Not all big cities, may be. Helsinki is also a big city, and I myself have experienced my wallet and keys being returned by some gentle person in honest city,

    2. I once read from a German that in India you get scammed over and over again but usually not stolen from.

  65. Maybe I am a typical finnish. I felt embarrest that there was even one person who kept the wallet him self.

      1. I am brazilian and I was quite surprised when I read that 4 people returned the wallet – and then I saw that one of the wallets had no money inside.
        I’m not saying that we are a country of burglars, it’s only because corruption is so rooted in our culture that is this case, a lot of people would not consider it a type of thief. (just like the girl who returned the wallet without the money probably don’t think that she was stealing something).

        and no, as a brazilian I’m definitely not proud of that.

  66. C’mon give people a break, you can’t compare rich Finns to those poor Portuguese and Spanish people. They probably thought of it as God’s little gift in such difficult times.

    1. Honesty has nothing to do with social conditions. I am Portuguese and I never failed to return a wallet or leave at a police station. That doesnt mean that this study has any credibility!

      1. Perfectly explained Lusitan!. But moreover Anis Matar, remember that the majority of people are still living well in those countries. More Spain (specially the northern part) than Portugal. More taxes than usual, but still living well.
        This very Saturday I had dinner with some friends in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Average city. 250,000 citizens. Well, it took us nearly 45 minutes to get to a restaurant that wasn’t full at downtown. And then, many joints were so crowded we have to wait some time to get a single beer. It’s the “crisis” I told them. Yeah, sure.

  67. The difference between 11/12 and 1/12 is statistically significant, even for a relatively small sample (12) and an imperfect random experiment, unless the experimenters went to a small “very honest” area of Helsinki (well-off?) and a small ” dishonest” area of Lisbon,(poor?)..

    1. What if by chance, the wallet was caught by the same individual 11 times? I am very sorry but it´s not statitically significant because you have a very small sample, uncontrolable environment, not the same conditions in all cities, etc.

    2. In this case it not statistically significant at all. Not only they were working with a very limited sample of a very large population, but also there is no indication of control of any other variable (time of day, location, visibility, economic indicators, etc…). This is just opportunistic journalism masquerading as a “test”.

    3. What’s odd about this, being Finnish, Kallio is known for being the roughest part of Helsinki, harboring the town drunks & more sketchy folks, it contains the cheapest apartments & cheapest bars… I’ve had my purse stolen there. So I was surprised by them choosing such a place and still having quite positive results.

  68. Sorry, didn’t see a trip to Kingston, Jamaica or Juarez, Mexico on there. Perhaps south-side of Chicago deserves a chance to prove the Fin’s aren’t the only good Samaritans?

  69. I want to tell the New Yorker “Dude INDIA scored better than you” :D

  70. No Tokyo, Japan? I live here and I’d bet you’d get a full 12 out of 12 wallets returned.

  71. This is really lame. Has Reader’s Digest resorted to 3rd-grade journalism?

  72. hahahahahah 9 out of 12 in India, Surprising………….really i don’t believe.

    1. Surprised? Why? you thing being poor has something to do with dishonesty?

  73. They should have added a couple more US Cities. I can just imagine the return rate in Washington D.C. probably zero. I’ll bet LA (or any CA city) would wind up in the bottom group as well.

  74. Isn’t this an attempt to create an argument among citizens around the world? Also you’re using only TWELVE wallets per city?! So even YOU know it’s not a valid result.

  75. My friend recently had all of her electronics stolen from the “secure storage” area in a Helsinki hotel. They’re are crooks in every city.

    1. That’s not the point. The point is that in some countries people are, in general, quite honest and in some places they’re all thieves. I’ve been around the world and this only confirms my I knew already.

    2. That could have very well been foreigners (in most cases they are)

  76. If Mexico was on the list not only 0-12 would’ve of been returned but they would also use the contact info in the wallet to do an “express-kidnap” on you.

  77. This article is very interesting.
    People are always unpredictable and suspicious.
    But I do believe in ‘Honesty is the best policy’

    1. Japan definitely will return them all, these people are the best in this universe

  78. I am from the north but live in Spain and I can confirm that the Spanish are VERY dishonest. never came across such distrustful ‘people’.

    1. Perhaps your spanish social circle is a corrupt circle. And perhaps you know personally to all spanish. Must be that.

    2. What makes you think that the Spanish are more distrustful than other people? Do you now such a large number of Spanish to be able to give your opinion? Or are you just another example of foreigner who comes to live in Spain but doesn’t get out of their circle, formed by people only from their home country?

      1. Is Marc, he’s from “the north” (what country is that) and talking so badly about spanish people…he must be Spanish too (=Catalan).

    3. Stop the trash talking about Spain Marc. Recent news have helped to place Catalunya on the map, but the only thing you’ve shown to the world this days is an egomanic president and an arrogant attitude. Along with that, a low profile spanish politicians and some inflammatory speeches have done the rest.
      I would be ashamed if I were Catalan to see the number of growing kiddies like you pretending to play the Serbo-Croatian war with the only goal to bother your neighbours. Pathetic!.

      1. I see you’re an expert, aren’t you? We don’t pretend to play any war. We are a democratic and peaceful movement. We (most of Catalan people) just want to vote. We don’t have the only goal to bother our neighbours: we want to live in a freer, fairer and more democratic state. We don’t want to be part of Spain any more. They don’t respect our language, culture and identity. It’s time to walk different ways. For many of us, this is not about money, this is about love. I don’t hate Spain or Spanish people. I want to be free. Not so difficult to understand, I think.

        Where are you from? Spanish maybe? Why is demanding a referendum so pathetic?

        I wish you the best. Please, let us live. And yes, people are not very honest both in Spain and in Catalonia. Sorry. I also want independence to change this.

        (I apologize for my English).

    1. In Karachi,along with the wallets the reporter whould have gone missing.

  79. That honesty is a cultural trait of Finns, in general, is true, but the supposed freedom from corruption has been overstated in the past years. There is corruption in Finland – the government seems to encourage monopolies, certain third parties have a lot of influence in political decision making – this is corruption, and it is quite plain to see, which makes one wonder about all this “least corrupt country in the world” hype. Then again on a smaller level Finland is quite “free” from corruption, i.e. you won’t bribe policemen with cash, everyone has the same opportunities regarding higher education etc.

    1. Cultural trait, yeah..doubt it. Of all the places I’ve lived and visited in the world, curiously enough the only place where my wallet was stolen was Helsinki. By a Finn.

  80. How many cities were tested? If it’s only a handful, then the title should reflect it.

  81. u used only 192 wallets.., while there are 7 billion ppl in this planet.. u should drop more..let say 1000 wallets in each country to get significant result

      1. Yeah! Volunteer your own wallet! Or get a bunch of fake ones and make fake business cards and put them in the wallets! Yeah!

      2. Comments like this one make dawdling away your time over comments worthwhile again… :D

    1. They might return your wallet, but also might gang rape you if your female and pretty…

      1. Passing judgement on 1/6th of humanity or 1.2 billion people. Way to go…Atleast we have a media and society which shows a mirror to the evil in itself…unlike certain “advanced” & “rich” countries? by the way you should read the united nations 2012 report which places India at 48th place for voilence against women. But then if CNN or BBC show something about individual acts of violence lets apply the same blinkered view to the whole society

        1. I heard they so, but since I’m not from China I really don’t know.

          1. the guy is criticizing mumbai for its rape culture. Why defend your city? I’m Indian and I criticize my city and its people. I don’t defend that. Ever. I don’t care what the world knows. Rape cannot be defended.

          2. dummy, America has the highest number of rapes in the world with just 1/4th of India’s population, according to their own agency Center of disease control and prevention. India has lowest violent crimes in the world for every 100,000 population. We have to look at every 100,000 population.. Since an individual’s act is propagated by BBC and foreign funded Indian media, does not mean that rape is high in India. So stop being a self loathing Indian.

      2. You know how to make it, what a cleaver guy. For sure, You are the Best !!!

    2. Why didn’t they include Italy? I would be curious to see what would happen in my nation of origin :)

      1. hahaha, seriously? the country where berlusconi has been prime minister since 1994?

  82. I find it interesting that not one Canadian city was not featured on this list. As the second largest countries in the world, Canada sure gets left behind a lot!.

    1. Well, I accidentally performed this “wallet drop” at the top of Whistler mountain about 6 years ago. It had my id, which I needed to get back into the U.S., a credit card and about $200 in it. It was returned to me with nothing taken.

      1. same happened to me in England. i´m Portuguese from Portugal and i´m ashamed of Portuguese people. I never had my lost wallets recovered. A friend of mine once had his wallet returned and we found out the guy that found it was a christian…

    2. Nobody cares about Canada. Beavers and Maple Syrup? Come on Canada you must have something better to offer the rest of the world?..

  83. Maybe the one’s who gave it back is not in great need, or it is just them that they want to gave it back.

  84. Well in my opinion author intended to highlight behavior of common people. I am living in Finland and people here are very honest. I lost my wallet, my ATM card and few other things, and every time got them back. Same happened with many of my friends. Does not matter how politicians are doing corruption in Finland but majority is very honest.

    1. Dude you are one hell of a dumb guy to lose ur wallet so many times :’D also you got some equally dumb friends :’D

  85. I am from Finland and I must agree with Flamer. Finland although is much better than most places in the world, also has is dose of corruption. Don’t be fooled!

    Furthermore, I would like to know who did the study and what where the exact places they choose for the experiment! I been in some of the cities included in the study and find very hard to believe some of the results. Such has Lisbon been ranked the least honest city. It’s been one of the places I visited with the nicest people!


  86. Nah. At Finland the corruption is protected by the “hyvä veli” network. For example the prime minister not very long ago tried to get extremely large tax reliefs passed to the extremely rich and did so successfully – it was only after the huge uproar from the people the law was remodeled. Whole event was pulled off by misguiding the attention of the people to somewhere else (himas-gate). Highly suspectiple law like that was passed by the last prime minister exactly like that, too. He was suspected of taking free wood for his house, while the government passed the law for the Yle-tax which is pretty much mandatory to everyone, regardless the level of disabledness and income you might posess. So yeah. The corruption definately is there, but it’s very sophisticated and high-level for the normal people to see. And since it’s system based and usually passed off as a law, nobody really has the stuff to fight against it.

  87. Little corruption in Finland is myth.
    Elsewhere corruption can be found but in Finland people cant see it since its done so openly, and no one cares, people are sheep, any other country people would be on barricades and politics beheaded or sued for their crimes against country.

      1. They haven’t beheaded politicians in Portugal for a while either. Like the name suggests, he likes to flame things, so – troll.

        Also, he probably is one of the people who would not return the wallet.

        1. Im from Finland and i do leave car keys in when going to shop, and never lock my bicycle either.

          But as you can see honesty of common people have nothing to do with corruption that is ran buy corporation owned politics, so im just honestly telling corruption exist in Finland in big scale.

      2. The Portuguese are not thieves. This study is completely absurd. I do not believe that is correct. Respect portuguese people!

        1. I’m from Brasil an old portuguese colony. The portuguese are thieves, I know.

          1. I am from Portugal, there’s a strong financial crisis here, almost as bad as in Greece. The Brazilians are returning to their country, we have less crime since they start returning to Brasil, most of the Brazilians that lived here in Portugal were prostitutes (women) religious sects (man and woman).

          2. The difference, is that we had a financial crisis before and you guys were swimming in EU money. That is why many prostitutes were from Brazil.

            Now we see the reverse, many prostitutes from Portugal and Spain are coming to steal those (blow) jobs in Brazil.

      3. I´m from Lisbon, Portugal. I reckon you suffer from from some kind of cognitive disorder? :)

          1. Not so quick! In 2000, I was driving in Chelas, lost my wallet. A táxi driver driving bihind me so the wallet and took of as quick as he could. 6 years later, I was sued in a Lisboa court, since that The stupid guy that took my wallet used the check on it to pay for goods. I left Portugal in 1998. The 2000 was just a transit stay! By living there 7 years, I can easily say that this conclusion might be close to be true!

      4. His English language writing skills might support your theory.
        Do run-on sentences characterize acceptable Portuguese? Are commas used for anything and everything forcing the reader to try harder to disentangle and understand something probably not worth the effort? I doubt it.

      5. i found two wallets one day. They both had pictures of totally different people in them. But they both had the same phone numbers. It was so weird, i took the money inside them and donated it to charity. Then I threw the wallets out because it was so scammish looking.

    1. In China, you are being sued first if you find any corruptions.

    2. Well my experiences of Finland are less cynical. I can’t see the corruption here as people from everywhere world else understands it… money doesn’t change hands in brown letters to get faster service. You can’t buy yourself out of police, you get sued for that. The court system is not corrupt… but naturally with money you can get a better lawyer.

      Only thing that is usually rather structural strength than corruption (which it may be in some cases) is that everyone knows everyone and if you are in right circles you can easily access (non-public) information if you know the right person.

    3. I’m a finn living in Scandinavia in Norway. I recommend Flamer to seek some mental help or try to live at least one year outside Norden. I just cannot take him seriously. Sorry if it hurts Flamer.

    4. I’m a German who has lived more than 5 years in Finland, and I would definitely say that honesty is a noticeable characteristic of many Finns. However, placing 12 wallets in a city isn’t going to get you awfully meaningful or valid statistics, I’m afraid. There are just too many variables – the people happening to walk by, place, time, etc. As to the Finnish corruption, it may very well be a problem, but I guess as bad as it is, it’s still relative to much more rampant corruption elsewhere. My conclusions: #1 Try to see people as individuals, not groups (I know how hard that is, I’m still trying). #2 Generally speaking, you can experience everything anywhere. #3 Stick to the nice and honest people you meet along the way. #4 Last but most important: Follow the Golden Rule.

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