What Worries the US: May 2018

Healthcare, along with crime and violence, remain top concerns.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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New global poll finds four concerns top the world’s worry list: financial/political corruption, unemployment, poverty/social inequality and crime and violence.

The What Worries the World study finds the majority of people in the participating 28 nations feel their country is on the wrong track (58% on average), with Italy (86%), Mexico (85%), Brazil (83%) and Spain (80%) citing the greatest levels of concern. 

“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.  

It finds that most people across the 28 countries think that their country is on the wrong track (58% on average). But there are very wide-ranging differing scores across the world:

Right Track 

•    Once again, China (92%) is the nation which inspires the most confidence about the direction it is taking. Saudi Arabia (76%) also remains in second place with South Korea (74%) in third-place position ahead of India (60%).

•    Poland has an increase in positivity this month, where optimism in the country’s direction rose 11-percentage points to 44%, the highest score in the country since October 2017 when the figure was 45%. South Korea follows with a score of 74% a 9-percentage-point upturn from the previous month. This surge is a 34-percentage-point increase from the same period last year (40%) and a 62-percentage-point overturn from January 2017 for South Korea. 

•    Optimism in Britain (38%) has risen by 3 percentage points since April, with 38% now saying the country is heading in the right direction — the highest figure recorded in precisely a year.

Wrong Track 

•    At the other end of the spectrum Italian, Mexican, Brazilian and Spanish citizens have the greatest apprehensions about the direction taken by their country. Just 14% of Italians think their country is going in the right direction, followed by 15% in Mexico and 17% in Brazil and 10% in Spain. 

•    In Argentina, we can see some effects of the financial concerns the nation is currently facing. The nation has financed a deal with the International Monetary Fund whilst the nation’s central bank also increasing its key borrowing rate to 40 per cent earlier in the month. Pessimism in Argentina has hit a four-month low: this month 64% of its citizens believe things are headed in the wrong direction. This is a 14-percentage-point increase from just the prior month. Italy (86%) has also seen a significant negative swing this month with a drop of 10-percentage-points since April

•    Following Argentina and Italy, South Africa has seen the largest drop in national optimism with only 33% believing the nation is on the right track — a fall of 19 points from a recent peak in March (52%) in the wake of Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment as the new ANC party leader.  

The four major worries for global citizens are:

1)     Financial / political corruption (35%), Malaysia and Peru (62%) are the most worried nations about this issue followed by South Africa (60%). Turkey (33%) has seen the largest increase in concern over the past month with a surge of 10 percentage points since April. Sweden (7%) and Germany (10%) are again the two least apprehensive countries – positions they have occupied since July 2017. They are now followed by Britain (13%).

2)     Unemployment (34%), The highest levels of concern are in Italy (68%), South Korea (62%) and Spain (62%). Malaysia is the country with the biggest increase from the previous month, with a rise of ten percentage points. Israel (11%) is now the least worried nation displacing Germany (12%) who had been the least concerned nation about the issue for seven consecutive months.  

3)     Poverty / social inequality (33%), The highest levels of worry are in Russia and Serbia (56%) followed by Hungary (49%) and Germany (47%). Concern about this topic is lowest in Saudi Arabia and the US (20%) – with the US being the least anxious nation for the entirety of 2017 and all of 2018 so far. 

4)     Crime and Violence (32%), The peak levels of concern are in Peru (67%) and Mexico (65%) followed by South Africa (58%) and Chile (57%). Worry about crime is lowest in Saudi Arabia (8%) and Russia (10%).

What Worries the United States

Healthcare (36%), along with crime & violence (33%), remain the top concerns in the United States. The US is concerned with healthcare at the 8th highest rate among global countries behind Hungary (69%), Poland (57%), Brazil (48%), China (41%), Great Britain (39%), Canada (37%), and Russia (37%).

Crime & violence has dropped four-percentage points since the April 2018 measurement. Although crime and violence is a top American concern, the US still ranks just 13th for this worry in comparison to the other 27 nations surveyed. 

In relation to crime & violence, terrorism (28%) comes in as the third most apprehensive issue for the nation. This puts the US in the top 5, globally, for most concerned on the issue.  

Among the top five concerns in the US, only healthcare (first, 36%) and immigration control (fourth, 24%) have seen an increase since April. Healthcare and immigration control both saw a one-point increase over that time period.

Top five global issues                                                Top five US issues
1)  Corruption (35%)                                                    1) Healthcare (36%)
2) Unemployment (34%)                                          2) Crime & Violence (33%)
3) Poverty/Social Inequality (33%)                       3) Terrorism (28%)
4) Crime & Violence (32%)                                       4) Immigration (24%)
5) Healthcare (24%)                                                   5)  Corruption (24%)

Commenting on the findings, Clifford Young, President at Ipsos US Public Affairs, said:

"Americans have consistently reported healthcare and crime as top societal issues. Although the news cycle has begun turning its attention toward global economic trade, Americans are still reporting the same issues at the top of their list." 

About this study

•    For media inquiries, please contact Chris Jackson at chris.jackson@ipsos.com. 

•    Full results available from www.ipsos.com.

•    The survey was conducted in 28 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The 28 countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. With Chile having joined this month. 

•    21,268 interviews were conducted between April 20th 2018 – May 4th 2018 among adults aged 18-64 in Canada, Israel and the US, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

•    In 17 of the 28 countries surveyed internet penetration is sufficiently high to think of the samples as representative of the wider population within the age ranges covered: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and United States.  The remaining 11 countries surveyed: Brazil, Chile, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey have lower levels of internet penetration and so these samples should instead be considered to represent a more affluent, connected population.  These are still a vital social group to understand in these countries, representing an important and emerging middle class.  

•    Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. With offices in 87 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Chris Jackson Vice President, US, Public Affairs