Generosity can make us live longer, new research shows. Now, that's more important than ever

When parents transfer resources to their kids or to their aging parents, research has shown, life spans increase.

(CNN)Giving money or resources to your children or aging parents is likely to increase their life span, according to a new paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

There is a linear relationship between the amount and frequency of wealth transfers and the lengths of individuals' lives, the study results have shown.
"At the beginning of life you are reliant on others," said lead study author Tobias Vogt, who is an assistant professor in the faculty of spatial sciences at the University of Groningen. "It's a good idea to help others throughout the course of our lives."
    The researchers' goal was to track data on how every individual in a given society consumes and saves.
    Intergenerational wealth transfers can include money, but they can also include houses, benefits or time.

    Wealth transfers are more common where social cohesion is high

    The researchers recognized that other factors -- such as country's gross domestic product (GDP) and income inequality -- also affect a population's life expectancy and adjusted their models to include those factors.
    One likely reason, Vogt said, for the correlation between countries experiencing greater longevity in the presence of financial transfers was that those countries exhibited stronger social cohesion.
    To back that up, he cited a 2010 meta-analysis performed by researchers at Brigham Young University -- with an aggregate of 148 separate studies involving a total of more than 300,000 participants. It found that survival was 50% greater for those with stronger social relationships compared to those with lesser or no social bonds.

    Sharing leads to long life

    Western Europe and Japan ranked highest on data linking resource sharing and lower mortality levels.
    France and Japan, the nations with the lowest mortality risk, showed the highest average individual wealth transfers. Theses countries shared between 68% and 69% of their lifetime income, while reporting mortality rates about twice as low as China and Turkey, where people shared between 44% and 48% of their lifetime earnings, according to the study.
    "South American countries also rank high in terms of generosity, as they share more than 60% of an average individual's lifetime income," the researchers reported.
    On the low side of the spectrum, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia were those in which people were least able to share portions of their lifetime earnings and experienced shorter life spans.

    This research complements findings in the UN's World Happiness Report

    Generosity and life expectancy are among the six variables scientists look at when making the World Happiness Report, which is released annually by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations.
    This year, even as the coronavirus pandemic swept Europe, Finland held on to its happiest country title for a third straight year.
    Boost your mental and physical health during the pandemic by volunteering virtually