Giving and sharing more could extend your life, say researchers writing in the medical journal PNAS.

The experts are based at the Max Planck Institute in Rostock, Germany. Their study suggests there’s a strong relationships between societies where people are generous and their respective average life expectancies. In other words, people who support each other live longer, they say.

The researchers analysed information from 32 countries gathered by the National Transfer Accounts project. This included calculating how much individuals give during their lifetimes and comparing that with their lifetime income.

In France and Japan, for instance, the average person shares between 68 and 69 per cent of their lifetime income with their children and older relatives. Meanwhile in China and Turkey between 44 and 48 per cent of lifetime income is redistributed. How does that affect longevity? In France and Japan, the risk of dying in the coming year is half as high for people aged 65 and older as in China or Turkey. Indeed France and Japan are the two countries with the lowest mortality rates of all the countries in the study.

The amount of money given to people by the state has a similar effect, the researchers say. So living in a generous society could help you live longer too.

Being generous doesn’t have to mean giving away money. What could you do to be generous today?