AUSTRALIA and New Zealand shared first place in a first-of-its kind survey ranking 153 nations on the willingness of their citizens to donate time and money to charity.
China ranked near the bottom, barely higher than last-place Madagascar.
The report, released today by the British-based Charities Aid Foundation, showed striking variations in charitable behaviour around the world.
For example, it found that only 4 per cent of Lithuanians gave money to charity, compared with 83 per cent of people in Malta; 61 per cent of people in Turkmenistan did volunteer work, compared with 2 per cent of Cambodians.
The overall rankings were a composite of three categories - the percentage of people who donated money, donated time and helped a stranger in the month prior to being surveyed.
New Zealand and Australia topped the index with an average score of 57 per cent, trailed by Canada and Ireland at 56 per cent, and the United States and Switzerland at 55 per cent.
Several of the world's most populous countries were near the bottom of the index - including India in 134th place, Russia in 138th and China in 147th. Only 4 per cent of Chinese people donate their time to charity, and only 6 per cent of Russians donate money, according to the survey.
In the West African nation of Liberia, only 8 per cent of the population give money to charity every month, yet 76 per cent regularly help a stranger - more than any other country.
Overall, among all those surveyed worldwide, 20 per cent volunteered time in the month prior to being interviewed, 30 per cent donated money, and 45 per cent helped a stranger. For the US, the figures were 60 per cent donating money, 39 per cent volunteering time and 65 per cent helping a stranger.
"Many countries at the bottom of the list benefit enormously from US philanthropy," said Susan Saxon-Harrold, CEO of Charities Aid Foundation America. "It's important that Americans continue to build up indigenous philanthropy in countries such as China, Russia and India."
The report was based primarily on data from Gallup's WorldView World Poll, an ongoing research project carried out in 153 countries accounting for 95 per cent of the world's population.
In most countries surveyed, 1000 questionnaires were completed - in telephone and face-to-face interviews- by a representative sample of individuals living in urban centres. Margins of error ranged from plus or minus 5.3 percentage points in Lithuania to plus or minus 2.6 percentage points in India.-The Australian