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Lost wallet test shows Norwegians slightly less honest than 1996

By Anne Sewell     Nov 23, 2013 in Business
Oslo - Way back in 1996, Readers' Digest magazine ran an honesty test of the world cities. Back then, all ten wallets left around Oslo were returned untouched. The Aftenposten newspaper decided to repeat the test in 2013 and the results were not quite so good.
When Reader's Digest ran the 1996 test, Oslo was ranked the world's most honest city, ahead of Stockholm in Sweden, where only seven wallets were returned to owner.
This year, not so great. In fact it is fair to say that Oslo's residents are now a little less honest than they were back in 1996.
What the Aftenposten newspaper did was to "lose" (accidentally-on-purpose of course) twenty wallets around the city of Oslo at the beginning of November. The wallets contained a DNB bank card, commuter cards, photo of a girlfriend, the business card of one of the newspaper's journalists and 300 kroner ($50) in cash.
Then they sat back and watched to see what would happen.
Unlike 1996, when all ten wallets were returned completely intact, this year five of the twenty wallets went into "finders' keepers" mode and were not returned and three wallets were returned but minus some or all of the cash.
One that was returned had been left on a bench in front of Parliament. It sat there for over an hour before an honest person came along. Andreas Gabrielsen (23) found the wallet, picked it up and phoned the Aftenposten journalist in order to return it, intact.
Gabrielsen told Aftenposten (in Norwegian): "I was waiting for a friend when I suddenly saw the wallet. I thought: "Now there is someone who is having a really bad day.""
"Free money is nice, but it was never an option to take the money myself. I hope people would do the same for me," he added.
While the video above is in Norwegian, it is possible to follow the various adventures of the wallets.
Anybody that did return the wallets intact was lucky enough to receive a reward of 300 Kroner ($50).
"It's pretty great that people in so many cases take the trouble to contact a strange person to give the money back. Especially in a big city like Oslo," says Karine Nyborg, professor of economics at the University of Oslo.
The Local quotes Alexander Cappelin, professor at the Norwegian School of Economics.
Cappelin referred to a French study which states that high levels of trust are the essential element in the high standard of living in Scandinavian countries.
"Trust is a more important resource for Norway than oil," Cappelin said . "So this is something politicians should take seriously."
More about Norway, Oslo, Lost wallet, Test, aftenposten
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