Apr 10, 2023 - News

Miamians aren't very helpful, survey says

Illustration of a hand raising and turning into a heart.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you need a favor in Miami, a helping hand might be hard to come by.

Driving the news: The Miami metro area ranked near the bottom of large U.S. metro areas surveyed on volunteerism and civic engagement by AmeriCorps, in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • Miami ranked 11th out of the 12 largest metro areas in formal volunteerism and dead last in "informal helping," which includes things like doing a favor for a neighbor.
  • The metro area also ranked near the bottom in donating to charity and being a member of an organization.

Why it matters: Community service not only makes a difference in other people's lives, but volunteering can improve your mental health, provide a sense of purpose and build support systems through social interaction, according to the Mayo Clinic.

By the numbers: The survey, conducted during the height of the pandemic between September 2020 and 2021, found that 14% of Miami metro residents volunteered through an organization and 36% helped a neighbor.

  • Compare that to the top-ranked metro areas in the study: 29% of residents in Philadelphia volunteered and 58% of residents in Boston said they helped a neighbor.

Zoom out: The Washington Post averaged the data from 2017 to 2021 and expanded it to include 88 U.S. metro areas: Miami came in third to last in informal helping, second to last in charitable giving and third to last in formal volunteering.

  • According to the Post analysis, Florida ranks dead last among all 50 states and Washington, D.C., in charitable giving, volunteering and organizational membership.

Between the lines: Income, education level, citizenship and race play a role in civic engagement rankings, the Post reports.

  • For example, the metro areas near the top of the rankings have a larger white, non-Hispanic population than Miami and the other lower scorers. They also have greater median incomes.

What they're saying: "It comes down to time, money and civic skills," Mike Hanmer, director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland, told the Post.

  • "And we know that those things are not evenly distributed throughout the population," he said. "Systematically, certain groups — particularly members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in our society — haven't had the same access and the same opportunities."

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