Citizens' Giving Behavior in Urban China: Findings from Beijing, Guangzhou and Kunming

Friday, 3 July 2015: 2:15 PM-3:45 PM
CLM.3.05 (Clement House)
Tao Lin, Peking University, Beijing, China
Kinman Chan, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Jiangang Zhu, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China
Terence Yuen, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
We collected data in telephone surveys in Beijing, Guangzhou and Kunming to investigate citizens’ giving behavior in urban China. We find that first, the rate of volunteering is non-trivial but it is relatively low, whereas monetary donation and neighbor-helping are much more widespread. Second, examining factors influencing citizens’ giving behavior suggests that in the Chinese institutional context, compared to volunteering, donating money and neighbor-helping are more accessible and legitimate channels through which citizens can express their pro-social values. A clear generational trend indicates that volunteering is favored by the young and highly educated as a form of giving. Finally, people who give with sufficient intensity enjoy greater life satisfaction, which implies that despite the restrictive institutional environment in China, acts of giving can still bring intrinsic rewards to the benefactor. Overall, the findings suggest that in China today, civic energies are abundant; the accessibility of the channels varies considerably; volunteering may be an emerging trend.