What Worries the World - September 2023: Concern about crime reaches highest level since before the pandemic

Inflation remains the number one concern in What Worries the World for the 18th month in a row.

The author(s)
  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK
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Worry about crime & violence is at its highest level since before the coronavirus pandemic, with one in three (32%) saying it is a major issue in their country.

It ranks second in our list of global concerns behind inflation which has been the top concern across 29 countries for the last 18 months.

Our monthly What Worries the World survey explores what the public thinks are the most important social and political issues, drawing on more than ten years of data to place the latest scores in context. This wave was conducted between August 25th – September 8th, 2023.

Key findings:

  • Worry about crime is at its highest level since before the pandemic (32%).
  • However, inflation remains the number one concern with 38% choosing it as an issue.
  • Germany records its lowest “country going in the right direction” and “good” economy scores.
  • Belgium has its highest ever “good” economy score and Belgians’ perceptions of the economy have improved the most in the last 12 months out of all 29 countries.
Top five worries september

Crime & violence

Concern about crime & violence is at its highest level since before the pandemic, with one in three (32%) across 29 countries choosing it as a worry. Back in March 2020 – the month before coronavirus was added to What Worries the World as a concern – 33% thought it was a top issue.

Worry about crime on a global level has been steadily rising this year. At the beginning of the year one in four (26%) said crime was a major issue in their market and this month worry about crime is at one of its highest levels over the last eight years. In February 2018, 35% choose crime as a concern, the highest score since 2015.

In September 2023, looking at what is happening at a country level, South Korea has seen the biggest rise in worry, up 18pp. Over four in ten (42%) say it is one of the top issues affecting the country. This comes on the back of a series of violent attacks in the country. In February this year concern for crime was only 7%, ranking behind other issues like inflation and unemployment. Over the last eight years this is the first time that crime & violence has been the top issue for South Koreans.

Peru is now the most concerned country about crime. In September it has seen a 6pp increase in worry, with 63% now choosing it as a concern.


Almost four in ten (38%) across 29 countries choose inflation as the one of the biggest concerns in their country. It has now been the number concern in What Worries the World for the last 18 months.

On a global level, worry about rising prices is 4pp lower than its peak six months ago, when 42% picked it as an issue in their country.

Argentina is the most concerned country with two-thirds (66%) saying it is a worry. Singapore is second after a 10pp increase in worry since last month with six in ten (59%) picking the cost of living as an issue.

Canada, Turkey and Australia make up the rest of the top five.

Indonesia remains the least concerned country about inflation with less than one in five (17%) singling it out as one of the top worries facing the country.

Top five inflation swirl

Climate change

One in five (19%) choose climate change as one of the biggest worries in their country and it ranks seventh out of 18 worries in our survey.

Over recent years, there has been a slight rise in concern each September on the previous year, as the northern hemisphere exits summer. This time last year, global concern was 18%, in 2021 it was 16%.

This month, Japan is the most concerned country with one in three (32%) picking it as an issue. Spain sees its record level of concern for climate change this month with 26% choosing it as a worry. This beats the country’s previous high last September of 25%.

Right direction vs. wrong track

Almost four in ten (38%) globally say their country is headed in the right direction. This is a slight increase of 2pp on August’s figure.

In September, Germany has recorded its lowest right direction score in the last decade; only one in four (24%) say the country is headed in the right direction. Germany's right direction score has been on a steady decline since March 2022, when 46% said the country was on a good path. In the last two months, its score has fallen 16pp.

This is reflected in how Germans view the economy in the country. Thirty-six per cent describe the country’s economy as good, Germany’s lowest ever “good” economy score.

Moving the other direction is South Africa. After having the lowest right direction score last month (14%) of all 29 countries, 27% are now happy with how the country is going. Peru is now bottom after a 6pp decline in their right direction score.

Perceptions of the economy

Across 29 countries, Singapore remains the most positive about its current economy, with three-quarters (75%) describing it as “good”.

Thailand (+9pp) and Malaysia (+8pp) have seen the biggest increases in positive economic perception this month. South Africa (+7pp to 25%) has also seen a rise, recording its highest score since April 2022 (also 25%).

Meanwhile, after four months of stability and recovery, Sweden’s “good” economy score has fallen 9pp. Peru and Germany have also seen a 7pp decline this month.

A 3pp rise from last month sees Belgium record its highest “good” economy score since February 2022 (both 42%). Positive economic perceptions have risen more in Belgium over the past 12 months than in any other country in our survey. 

The author(s)
  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK