Searching for keys to unlock cross-border giving in Asia

Birger Stamperdahl

Asia is home to one-third of all billionaires. A new report examines why so much of their philanthropy stays domestic and how to unlock more cross-border giving.

Over the past 30 years, Asia got rich. The Asia Pacific region is now home to nearly 10 million millionaires. That’s larger than the total population – both millionaires and not – of Paris, Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona combined.

Among the super-rich, Asia’s stats look even more impressive. China alone boasts over 1,100 billionaires. The region’s spectacular economic growth has been the primary driver for growing private wealth. China’s growth is particularly staggering, with per capita GDP moving from $317 in 1990 to $10,500 in 2020 according to the World Bank.

Yet despite the massive increase in wealth, relatively few Asians are giving abroad. While accurate figures are hard to come by, a 2020 Global Philanthropy Environment Index report showed a mere $20 million in private philanthropic outflows from China and $8.5 million from India – less than 0.0003 per cent of gross national income (GNI). By contrast, the United States sends 0.22 per cent of its GNI abroad via charitable giving.

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