Donating to charities, doing voluntary work or helping strangers are all examples of showing compassion to others, contributing to the functioning of society and/or supporting the disadvantaged. Income levels can to some extent explain observed differences between countries, but different traditions regarding the supportive role of the state, the community and the family are also important.

On average, people across the Asia/Pacific region are slightly less likely to donate to charities than people living in OECD countries (Figure 4.13). The incidence of donating to charities has declined somewhat across the OECD since 2017/18, while it changed little in the Asia/Pacific region over the past five years (Figure 4.13). People in South-Eastern Asia are 10 percentage points more likely to donate to charity than the average across the Asia/Pacific region. Since 2010, the incidence of donating to charities has been around 15% of people in China, but this proportion had increased in recent years, most notably in 2020 – the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the incidence exceeded 20%.

Alternative ways of showing solidarity can be through helping a stranger or offering time to an organisation or charity. In recent years, the share of people who helped a stranger increased slightly on average across the Asia/Pacific region (Figure 4.14). Indonesia and Malaysia had the largest increase in altruistic behaviour towards strangers over the past decade, while Turkmen and Bangladeshis appear to be the most likely to help a stranger in need.

The share of people who volunteered time also varies across the Asia/Pacific region (Figure 4.15). On average, one in five people volunteered time to an organisation in 2017-29. Indonesia had the highest number of volunteers, showing a large increase since 2007-09. By contrast, less than 10% of the population in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China and Lao PDR made time available for charitable work.

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