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Houston: Least-Generous City (When it Comes to Free Stuff on Craigslist)

These kids are obviously not from Houston
These kids are obviously not from Houston

Houston is many things, but one thing it apparently isn't is one of those hippie, commune-type places where people dig the vibe of being generous with things they no longer want.

In short, we are not Portland or Seattle. Or Detroit, for that matter.

Author Dan Ariely, a Duke University professor of psychology and behavioral economics, has a post on his blog where he rates cities' generosity by a method he admits is not foolproof: Craigslist listings.

He compared the number of items being offered away for free to the number of furniture items on sale.

In Portland, for instance, for every 100 items of furniture being sold, 6.8 percent of that is being offered for free on the site. In the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston, it's 6.5 percent. In Seattle, it's an even six.

In Houston? Cringe away: 0.7 percent. It's the worst of the 23 cities surveyed, the only one to fall lower than one percent. Miami and Phoenix also scored low.

Ariely implies he's not sure if his method is a valid way of measuring "generosity," and commenters agree.

dailygazing said:

he reason people in Miami, Phoenix, and Houston don't use Craigslist to give items away is fear. It is safer to call one of the recognized charities to come and haul stuff away. In Portland, they trust everyone. They have all bonded over the amount of rain they get, their love of lattes, and locally sourced food. Mr. Ariely, your measure of generosity is silly but I may buy your book just for fun.

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