What Worries the World – May 2022

Inflation remains the top global worry after rising for tenth month in a row.

Worry about inflation has risen for the tenth month in a row and remains the number one concern in What Worries the World.

A global average of one in three (34%) say inflation is one of the top issues affecting their country, up two points on last month.

Our monthly What Worries the World survey explores what the public thinks are most important social and political issues across 27 countries today, drawing on ten years of data to place the latest scores in context. This wave was conducted between April 22nd, 2022 – May 6th, 2022.

Key findings

  • Inflation remains the number one concern globally: 34% say it is one of the biggest worries facing their country today (+2 points vs. April 2022)
  • Completing the top five are Poverty/social inequality (31%), Unemployment (27%), Crime and violence (27%), and Financial/political corruption (24%)
  • Concern over the pandemic continues to decline, as Coronavirus stays at eighth position. This is the third month in a row that it places outside the top five concerns
  • Japan is the only country where Covid is the top concern, compared to 12 in January
  • Military conflict between nations was added to the index last month and the global figure remains flat at 14%. However, it is now the top concern in Germany
  • Two in three people (65%) believe their country is heading in the wrong direction with Argentina topping the index, followed by Peru and Japan with 89% and 87% respectively

Inflation

Concern about inflation has continued to grow in May’s What Worries the World, with 34% (+2) saying it is one of the top issues affecting their country.

Worry about the issue has been rising steadily, with the global figure increasing every month for the last ten. You have to go back to July 2021 for worry about inflation to not be higher than the previous month.

Back then it was tenth in our index, between climate change and immigration control, with 12% having it as an issue affecting their country. At the start of year, it was up to eighth with one in five (20%) choosing it.

Since then, the rise has been sharper and universal across markets. All 27 countries surveyed have a higher “worried about inflation” figure in May than they did at the start of 2022. In March it made the top five concerns for the first time since it was added to the index in 2013 and then last month it became the top worry globally.

In April all but one country saw an increase in their worry about rising prices and in May 18 markets have seen their concern rise again. The countries with the biggest growth in concern since last month include Chile (+12), Poland (+9), and South Korea (+9).

It was already the number one concern in Argentina, Canada, Great Britain, Poland, Turkey and the US, with Australia now joining that list.

Coronavirus

Covid-19 has recorded its lowest score for the third month in a row as it remains in eighth place (between taxes and climate change).

Globally, the proportion concerned about Coronavirus is 16%, down two points on last month but down 17 points on March and 19 points below its figure at the start of the year.

To highlight the scale of decline in concern for the pandemic, back in February it was still top of our list of 18 issues. Japan remains the lone country where Covid is the top concern compared to nine three months ago.

However, six countries have seen a rise in worry, with Spain seeing the biggest increase of +7. Saudi Arabia is now fourth out of 27 countries after concern rose +3.

Issue focus: Military conflict between nations

Military conflict between nations was added to What Worries the World last month. The global figure remains flat at 14%, staying in 11th place in our rankings (between education and immigration control).

Concern in Germany has risen six points and it is now the most concerned country globally on the issue. Germans have it as the number one concern out of 18 issues, the only country where this is the case.

Italy (+4), Belgium (+3), and Japan (+6) are in the top five and have seen increases in worry. Poland, which was top last month, has seen a decline in concern and is now number two in the rankings.

European countries are the most concerned, but like Poland, many of those in the top ten have seen declines in worry. These include Sweden (-5), Great Britain (-7), and France (-2).

Heading in the right direction?

Across the 27 nations surveyed, two-thirds (64%) say that things in their country are on the wrong track, while 36% think they are heading in the right direction.

Peru and Argentina have the largest proportion saying that their country is heading in the wrong direction (91% and 86% respectively). There has been a 9-point increase on the “wrong track” score in Chile and an 8-point rise in Hungary since last month. 

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and India remain the most positive about their country (93% and 75%). While Israel has seen a 9-point increase in its “right track” score since last month and Spain and Colombia have both seen a 6-point rise.

Focus on the economy

Across all countries, a third (35%) on average say that the current economic situation in their country is good, while a majority (65%) say that it is bad.

After experiencing a steep drop last month, Spain’s score is up 12 points with 30% of people saying the state of their country’s current economy is good. Increases are also seen this month in Israel (+6) and Canada (+5).

After dropping 12 points between March and April, Great Britain’s score falls a further 4 points this month, to 26%. Elsewhere, the largest decreases are seen in Poland (-7, down to 21%), Sweden (-5, down to 21%) and Malaysia (-5, down to 44%).

Argentina is once again at the bottom of the table this month, with only 8% of people rating the country’s economic situation as good.


About this study

Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey is conducted in 27 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States.  

19,00 online interviews were conducted between April 22nd 2022 - May 6th 2022 among adults aged 18-74 in the US, South Africa, Turkey, Israel and Canada and age 16-74 in all other countries. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.  

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