July 27, 2011 / 3:43 PM / 6 years ago

Good neighbors mean help is next door: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Most Americans are willing to help their neighbors during tough economic times but noise and out of control children and pets can still annoy the people living next door, according to a new survey.

<p>Amish boys get a lift home after school by a neighbor in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania October 3, 2006. REUTERS/Bradley C Bower</p>

Whether it is assistance in looking for a job, babysitting or even a loan, 83 percent of 17,000 Americans questioned in a nationwide poll said they would lend a helping hand to a neighbor in need.

“This provides some evidence that when things go bad, like a natural disaster or the economy, people look at the local level for types of social support,” Professor Keith Hampton, of University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication, said about the findings of the poll.

“Even with help for basic day-to-day stuff, they turn to their neighbors, which leads to a temporary spike in local engagement in America,” he added.

South Florida resident Kay Riordan took in her neighbor’s four children for more than two months they had to move to North Carolina for a job opportunity after falling on hard time.

“They were picking up and moving on a hope and a prayer,” she said. “We did not want to uproot the children, so we offered.”

Riordan, who took part in the Harris Interactive poll commissioned by State Farm Insurance, was among the 10 percent of Americans who said they would let a neighbor live with them for a short to help them through difficult times.

With the U.S. jobless rate hovering at 9.2 percent, the help could provide a needed lifeline.

Forty five percent of people questioned in the poll said they would help a neighbor look for a job, 15 percent would lend their neighbors money, 44 percent said they would cook a meal and 32 percent would babysit to save on childcare costs.

“Everyday there are headlines about economic difficulties,” said David Beigie, a spokesman from State Farm insurance. “It is very easy to move into a fear based approach to living, and people may not realize that’s there is help next door.”

But the poll also revealed that 66 percent of city dwellers had a complaint about a neighbor, compared to 54 percent of Americans in rural areas.

Most of the gripes, 33 percent, were about rowdy children and pets, followed by noise and poorly maintained property.

And only one in four people said they know the names of most, or all, or their neighbors.

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