Are Americans hunkering down and isolating themselves, or are they extending a hand to help those around them while the economy wavers and dips? According to a new survey, the news is good: 83 percent of us are willing to help a neighbor with financial problems, and 45 percent of us will help a neighbor look for a job.
The survey, commissioned by State Farm and conducted by Harris Interactive, asked more than 17,000 Americans how they felt about reaching out to their neighbors. In addition to helping them find a job, neighbors are willing to take care of domestic chores, with 44 percent saying that they would happily cook meals for those in need and 32 percent saying that they would help with babysitting to help save on childcare costs.
A smaller percentage is even willing to give their neighbors the shirt off their back, figuratively speaking. A full 15 percent would lend a neighbor money and, get this: 10 percent said that they would allow a neighbor live with them for a short while if they got in a real bind.
It's interesting to note, however, that there is a little difference between the attitudes of city folk and country folk. While 82 percent of those living in urban settings said that they would help their neighbors, in the suburban and rural areas, the number who would assist is slightly higher, at 84 percent.
How to Reach Out
"This data shows that, even in the age of social networking and technology-driven interactions, those who live near us remain important sources of support and even happiness," said Keith Hampton, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of i-Neighbors.org, a social networking site designed especially for neighbors. "Throughout this and other research, it's clear that Americans still value neighbors, though there are differences based on complex factors like age and environment."
Now if you want to reach out to your own neighbors, there are certain things you should do first, like learn their names, which most young people don't seem to take the time to do. The survey found that among Americans 66 and older, 65 percent know at least a decent number of their neighbors' names, while only 36 percent of those ages 18 to 34 claim that they do.
Also, you'd best keep the noise down. While most of us are willing to help our neighbors, we still have our complaints, and out-of-control pets or kids -- and noise -- top that list, according to the survey. Poorly maintained property is also a common complaint.
But just because we complain about each other from time to time doesn't mean we're not willing to help each other. Many Americans tend to view their neighborhoods as extended families, and we all know we have our disagreements from time to time.
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