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Kenyans has been ranked poorly in a global honesty survey of 40 countries where researchers dropped wallets with cash in public places as part of a social experiment.

Lost Wallet Experiment: Nairobi Ranks Poorly in Global Honesty Index

The study sought to answer the question: Does the amount of cash in a lost wallet impact how likely a person is to return it?

A team of researchers drawn from various universities across the world studied the question in a huge experiment spanning 355 cities in 40 countries. One of the cities studied was Nairobi.

For this purpose, a team of researchers dropped off more than 17,000 ‘lost’ wallets at random places in 355 cities across the globe, with varying amounts of money at public and private places including but not limited to banks, cultural establishments like theatres and museums, post offices, hotels, and police stations or courts of law.

The objective of this exercise was to determine whether people who found the wallet would return it to its rightful owner or not.

The wallet would be placed on the counter by the research assistant, who would deliver it to an employee telling them they had found it on the street but were in a hurry and had to go.

Each contained a grocery list, a key, and three business cards in the local language using fictitious but commonplace male names and an email address, signaling the owner was a local resident.

Some wallets had no money, while others contained the equivalent of $13.45 in the local currency, adjusted for purchasing power in the target country.

Contrary to the predictions of professional economists and about 2,500 respondents to a survey, most of the people who found the abandoned wallets did not act in self-interest and made active efforts to return the wallet.

The overall finding of the study was that people are likelier to return wallets with more cash.