In Box

The Ties That Don’t Bind

In tough times, how many friends do you really have?

In desperate moments, where does one turn for help? Poor countries are often assumed to have relatively weak government safety nets, but also strong social networks — extended families and friends who can pitch in during hard times. Yet when Gallup asked respondents in selected countries, "If you were in trouble, do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you whenever you need them?" the results pointed to a different conclusion: The strength of informal support networks roughly mirrors a country’s economic and political stability.

Below are percentages of poll respondents by country who answered "yes":

  • 48% Pakistan
  • 54% Afghanistan
  • 62% Cambodia
  • 62% Iran
  • 80% China
  • 95% United States
  • 98% Ireland
Christina Larson is an award-winning science and technology journalist based in Beijing. Twitter: @larsonchristina

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola