By Claire Lee
More South Koreans are choosing to donate funds to charities and participate in volunteer work, government data showed Wednesday.
According to the Welfare Ministry, Koreans donated 12.49 trillion won ($11.9 billion) in 2013, which is 1.5 times the donations in 2006 ― 8.14 trillion won.
Total donations in 2013 accounted for 0.87 percent of gross domestic product. The ministry said while Koreans are donating more funds, the amount remains low compared to average donations in other countries.
In the U.S., the total donations made up 2 percent of its GDP last year, while in New Zealand it was 1.35 percent.
In 2013, 34.5 percent of all Koreans aged 15 or older donated funds at least once. In 2006, the figure was 31.6 percent.
Data also showed that Koreans in their 40s, those with higher education degrees and with high income tended to donate the most. While 44.9 percent of all Koreans in their 40s were making donations, only 24.8 percent of Koreans in their 20s did so in 2013.
More than half of university graduates were making donations, while 17.2 percent of those who finished up to elementary school were doing so.
Those who work in high-paid specialized fields, such as physicians and lawyers, were donating the most among all occupations with 58.2 percent, while those who work in the fishing and agricultural industry were donating the least with 25.3 percent.
Meanwhile, 17.7 percent of all Koreans aged 15 or older were taking part in volunteer work as of 2013 compared to 13 percent in 1999. Data also found that 55 percent of those who volunteered also donated to charities.
Teens were most active in volunteering among all age groups, seemingly related to the additional merits students receive while applying for colleges. Data showed that 75.4 percent of Koreans aged 15 to 19 have volunteered at least once in their lives as of 2013, while 7.8 percent of those in their 60s had the same experience. The largest number of teen volunteers were middle school students.
Among adult volunteers, the largest group was working in high-paid jobs and had university degrees. Those who never attended middle school and those who work in the service sector volunteered the least.
The ministry said those who make donations or volunteer are more likely to be satisfied with their lives and feel connected to their communities. “We plan to support those who are willing to make donations or volunteer with the right opportunities, and keep track of the statistics every year,” the ministry said.