Ireland has been ranked as the third most charitable nation in the world by a new global study. Despite the current economic turmoil new statistics reveal that Irish people are a nation of givers.

The World Giving Index is the first report of its kind and examined charitable behaviors around the globe. The study was carried out by the British based group Charities Aid Foundation. The poll examined three main types of charitable behavior including giving money, donating time and helping strangers.

Statistics show that 72 percent of the Irish population had given money to charity while 35percent had given time and 60 per cent had helped a stranger.

The research was based in a Gallup survey of 195,000 people in 153 countries. Ireland’s fieldwork was represented by 1,000 telephone interviews with people in April 2009.

The study also collated information on people’s overall happiness. Once again Ireland scored high as it was ranked as the 16th happiest country in the world.

Australia and New Zealand topped for polls, the US tied with Switzerland for fifth place while Maltese people are the most generous when it comes to donating money.

Several of the worlds most densely populated countries ranked close to the bottom of the index including India in 134th place, Russia in 138th and China in 147th.

Richard Harrison, research director with the Charities Aid Foundation, said the findings probably reflected the fact that well being and happiness was not all about the economy. He said work-life balance played a part, which may be reflected in the fact that Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland all scored very well.

“The link between being happy and giving money to charity is stronger than that between wealth and giving,” said Mr Harrison.