Which Cities Are The Most Generous?

February 10, 2011 BY danariely

Recently I decided to come up with a rough measure of generosity across different communities. Which communities have a culture of giving away unused items as opposed to trying to sell them? And why?

One of the ideas was to use Craigslist as a rough measure. Looking at the 23 major cities on Craigslist, we took the number of free items being given away in one week and divided it by the number of items being sold in the furniture category, as a quick index of generosity. In a nutshell: for every 100 items of furniture being sold, how many items are being given away for free?

As you can see, Portland, SF Bay, Boston, and Seattle come up on top in terms of this measurement, with Miami, Phoenix, and Houston on the bottom.

Is this a good metric for measuring generosity across communities?