Most and Least Honest Cities in the World

Photo (cc) by katerha

Reader’s Digest conducted a $9,600 experiment to figure out which cities of the world are the most — or least — honest.

How? They deliberately lost wallets.

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.

Here’s how the cities ranked, from most honest to least:

  • Helsinki — returned 11 out of 12.
  • Mumbai, India — returned nine.
  • Budapest, Hungary — returned eight.
  • New York City — returned eight.
  • Moscow — returned eight.
  • Amsterdam — returned seven.
  • Berlin — returned six.
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia — returned six.
  • London — returned five.
  • Warsaw, Poland — returned five.
  • Bucharest, Romania — returned four.
  • Rio de Janeiro — returned four.
  • Zurich — returned four.
  • Prague — returned three.
  • Madrid — returned two.
  • Lisbon, Portugal — returned one.

Some wallets were returned, but suspiciously lighter. And in some cases, RD.com reporters literally watched people walk off with the money. In Budapest, “a woman in her early 60s opened the wallet, and then entered a nearby building,” RD.com says. “We never heard from her.” Likewise in Prague, a pair of young teenagers slipped the wallet into a knapsack “and left in a very good mood.”

In Lisbon, the lone returned wallet didn’t even come from locals. The pair who returned it were visitors from Holland, RD.com says.

While RD.com collected demographic information from the people honest enough to turn in wallets, there weren’t any obvious trends. Just under half of them were returned, with no clear predictors based on age, gender or wealth. (But see our story, “Study: Wealthy People More Likely to Lie, Cheat and Take Candy From Kids.”)

Wouldn’t it be fun to see an American-centric version of this test? The only U.S. city on this list is New York, which at least returned 75 percent of the wallets to maintain our good name. Turns out there is one called the National Honesty Index, although the payoff there for being underhanded was far smaller.

“The makers of Honest Tea conducted the survey, which involved setting up an unmanned booth with bottles of their product on display,” Yahoo News says. “Customers were asked to use the honor system and leave $1 for each bottle of tea they took.”

Washington, D.C., was found to be the least honest in that test, Yahoo says, paying just 80 percent of the time. The national average was 92 percent, with the perfect angels in Hawaii and Alabama paying 100 percent of the time.

Are you surprised by either list? Let us know on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Want a Healthy Retirement? Turn This Device Off
Want a Healthy Retirement? Turn This Device Off

A common behavior becomes increasingly dangerous for those who are 50 or older.

20 Generic Brands That Amazon Created
20 Generic Brands That Amazon Created

Amazon’s growing collection of private brands offers everything from toilet paper and coffee to motor oil and clothing.

8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will
8 Reasons Your Parents Had an Easier Retirement Than You Will

Here’s why the last decades of life are harder now than they used to be.

60% of People With This Disease Don’t Know They Have It
60% of People With This Disease Don’t Know They Have It

Millions of people overlook this potentially potent condition that tends to strike women and older adults.

7 Mistakes Guaranteed to Ruin Your Retirement
7 Mistakes Guaranteed to Ruin Your Retirement

Make even one of these money mistakes, and you’ll probably end up eating ramen noodles in your golden years.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.