Worry about possible worldwide conflict rises

Ipsos survey for Halifax International Security Forum finds 73% of people, on average, across 33 countries expect in the next 25 years we could see another world conflict involving superpowers similar to World Wars I & II.

The invasion of Ukraine seems to have global citizens feeling on edge. As new Ipsos polling conducted on behalf of the Halifax International Security Forum finds almost three in four (73%) agree we could see a worldwide conflict like last century’s major military confrontations.

Of the more than 32,000 people surveyed, an average of 73% somewhat/strongly agree with the statement: “I expect in the next 25 years we could see another world conflict involving superpowers similar to World Wars 1 & 2”, up 10 percentage points since last year. Australia (+8 points to 81%), Ireland (80%, new this year), Mexico (+8 pts to 80%) and Peru (+3 pts to 80%) are the countries where people are most concerned with worldwide conflict breaking out. Concern rose significantly, but is lowest in Japan (+16 pts to 51%), Sweden (+11 pts to 60%), Germany (+17 pts to 63%) and Indonesia (63%, new).

Majority expect there could be a worldwide conflict

More than half of people in all 33 countries polled on Ipsos’ Global Advisor online platform between September 23 and October 7, 2022 expect there could be a world conflict on par with WW1 and WWII by 2047. And in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine in early February, the percentage of people expecting a world conflict rose in all countries year over year, ranging from a low of +1 percentage point in Colombia (78%) to a high of 18 percentage points in Belgium (77%). Ukraine is new to the survey this year, and perhaps a bit surprisingly given their proximity to a current conflict, only 70% of Ukrainians expect a global conflict akin to WWI or WWII in the next 25 years.

Widespread support for increased military spending

Alongside the increased expectation of a global conflict, there’s an increase in support for beefing up the military in several countries. Just over 2 in 3 (64%) of people, on average, across 30 countries somewhat/strongly agree that given the dangers in the world, their government needs to spend more on their military’s power — an increase of 13 percentage points from last year. While a whopping 92% of Ukrainians agree their country needs to spend more on their military, followed by India (+3 points to 84%) and Poland (+16 pts to 81%). Support for military spending rose in all countries year over year, ranging from a rise of 2 points in South Korea (71%) to 20 percentage points in Great Britain (71%).

Economic power still seen as the dominant weapon

The percentage of people who somewhat/strongly agree with the statement: “Economic power is more important in world affairs than military power” fell one percentage point to 77% in 2022.

This year, the efficacy of economic sanctions against Russia came under scrutiny and may have influenced some people’s perceptions of economic vs. military might.

The percentage who believe economic power is more important rose significantly in three countries — the U.S. (+4 pts to 68%), Saudi Arabia (+5 pts to 81%) and Peru (+8 pts to 84%) and it took a significant hit in eight countries — Argentina (-4 pts to 78%), France (-5 pts to 75%), Germany (-5 pts to 74%), Poland (-5 pts to 73%), Japan (-6 pts to 71%), Belgium (-8 pts to 75%), Sweden (-9 pts to 73%) and Turkey (-9 pts to 72%). Despite the dips, the majority across all countries (from 68% in the U.S. to 86% in Thailand) somewhat/strongly agree economic power is more important in world affairs than military power. 

About this study

These are the results of a 33-market survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 32,507 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, 20-74 in Thailand, 21-74 in Indonesia, and 16-74 in 27 other markets between Friday, September 23 and Friday, October 7, 2022.


Table of content

  1. Nuclear, biological or chemical attack now seen as top threat facing the world
  2. Worry about possible worldwide conflict rises
  3. Canada, Germany remain top countries expected to have a positive influence on world affairs
  4. Most global citizens (85%) say world needs new international agreements and Institutions led by world’s democracies

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