In 2015, Gallup surveyed 145,000 people in 140 countries with three questions about their charitable behaviour. The survey results, which were released last September, show that 24% of Chinese respondents claimed to have helped a stranger within the last month, and 6% to have donated money to a charitable organization. Furthermore, 5% of Chinese respondents had done volunteer work within the last month, which was higher than the percentage in Egypt and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
While tens of millions of people are included in these percentages, they are in fact low compared to other nations, so much so that China came last overall out of all the countries surveyed. China’s low ranking may possibly be due to incidents such as the Guo Meimei scandal and the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, when large sums of donated money appeared to have been misused, damaging public trust in charity organizations. However, some believe that the roots of the problem go further back.
Possible reasons for China’s low levels of altruistic behaviour may be rooted in its fast-paced economic growth and its learning methods that create a competitive mindset. Since the opening-up and reform policies in the late 1970s, China’s economic growth has catapulted its citizens into a world of consumerism, which some believe has prompted a higher level of self-serving behaviour. Aside from this, Chinese teaching methods may also be to blame for the low levels of charitable behaviour exhibited in China, because they foster a race-to-the-top mentality among Chinese students.