Lost Letter Measure of Variation in Altruistic Behaviour in 20 Neighbourhoods
Altruistic behaviour varies across human populations and this variation is likely to be partly explained by variation in the ecological context of the populations. We hypothesise that area level socio-economic characteristics will determine the levels of altruism found in individuals living in an area and we use a lost letter experiment to measure altruism across 20 neighbourhoods with a wide range of income deprivation scores in London, UK. The results show a strong negative effect of neighbourhood income deprivation on altruistic behaviour, with letters dropped in the poorest neighbourhoods having 91% lower odds of being returned than letters dropped in the wealthiest neighbourhoods. We suggest that measures of altruism are strongly context dependant.