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'Asians more generous than Europeans'

Last updated: 07 December, 2011
Anil Sinha, New Delhi, Dec 6, DHNS:

UN study finds people in East Asia do more voluntary work

Europeans are less inclined to philanthropy. A UN-commissioned report on volunteerism finds European nations at the bottom of a list. East Asians, followed by Africans, were found to be ready to serve the community without any remuneration.

The report, released this week, has reviewed voluntary works world wide and monitored all the aspects related to voluntary actions. It says: “The lowest levels of voluntary work were found in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)”.

Quoting the World Values Survey (WVS), the report reveals that people in East Asia are most likely to report doing “unpaid voluntary work”, followed by people in Africa, North America and the pacific region.

The questions asked in these surveys try to understand the basic human approach that motivates people to join voluntary sectors. One of the questions it has cited is - Think about the past 3 months. During the period did you help, work or provide any service or assistance to anyone outside your family or household without receiving compensation?


Even in paid voluntary works, participation of Europeans is less than others. According to the UN report, 16 per cent of the adults worldwide have been found to be volunteering to an organisation.

“People in North America, Australia and New Zealand were the most likely to volunteer, followed by those in South-East Asia (specifically Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines) and Africa. The lowest levels of volunteerism were in the Middle East, North Africa and East Asia (China, Japan and South Korea),” says the report.

The report further underlines the strong tradition of philanthropy in Africa.“The African philanthropy isn’t something that needs to be introduced by anybody because Africans have strong traditions of self-help, self-support, voluntary institutions, and rotation credit and associations,”it said. The report has also pointed out that the growth of new technology in an era of globalization has increased the scope of voluntary actions.

“Opportunities for people to engage in volunteer action have been expanding in recent years as a result of factors such as globalization, the spread of new technologies and initiatives associated with corporate social responsibility from the private sector,” says the UN report.

“The advent of mobile communication technologies and online volunteering, for example, has enabled many more people to participate for the first time. Mass Short Message Service (SMS) communication is one form of “microvolunteerism” that contributes to the production and sharing of information,” the report says.

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