What Worries the World... and the U.S.

Healthcare still #1 concern in the U.S. while top global worries are corruption, jobs, and poverty

What Worries the World... and the U.S.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, October 11, 2018 - The latest installment of Ipsos’s What Worries the World finds that 60% of people across all 28 participating nations, including 59% of Americans, feel their country is on the wrong track. Concern is most widespread in Brazil (where 88% say things in their country are off on the wrong track), Spain (81%), South Africa (81%), France (76%) and Peru (75%). 

“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. In the latest wave, 20,787 interviews were conducted between August 24 and September 7, 2018. 

Once again, the study shows wide-ranging disparities in scores across the globe: 

China continues showing he highest level of confidence with 92% of those surveyed saying things in their country are heading in the right direction. Saudi Arabia (78%) remains in second place and India (67%) in third position. Malaysia (65%) shows an 8 percentage- points’ increase and rises to fourth place. 

At the other end of the spectrum, just 12% in Brazil say their country is going in the right direction, followed by 19% in both Spain and South Africa and 24% in France. South Korea (50%) shows the biggest drop in optimism, down 8 points over the previous month and 24 points from a positive spike in May. Other notable past-month drops are seen in South Africa and Turkey (both by 7 points) and in Spain and Israel (both by 5 points).

Optimism in the U.S. remains steady with 41% saying the country is heading in the right direction, similar to the global average (40%). While the percentage of Americans saying the country is on the right track had dropped from 47% in April to 40% in June, it has remained nearly unchanged since.

What Worries the World? 

The top four worries for global citizens are:

1)    Financial/Political Corruption, cited by 34% of all people surveyed across 28 countries. Peru (68%) is the nation most worried about this corruption, followed by both Malaysia and Russia (53% each). Argentina (44%) sees the largest increase in concern about this issue with a rise of 10 points over the previous month. Sweden (6%) and Germany (7%) remain the two countries least concerned about this issue.

2)    Unemployment and Jobs (33% globally). Topmost levels of concern about unemployment and jobs are seen in South Korea (69%), Italy (64%) and Spain (61%). South Korea is also the country where concern about this issue shows the biggest increase compared to the previous monthly wave with a rise of 8 points. Germany (11%) is the nation least worried about unemployment, followed by Israel (12%) and the U.S. (13%). 

3)    Poverty and Social Inequality (33% globally). The highest levels of concern about poverty and social inequality are seen in Russia (60%), Serbia (55%), Hungary (45%) and Germany (44%). The U.S. (18%) remains the country where it is least widely cited as a concern, followed by Sweden (19%) and Saudi Arabia (22%).   

4)    Crime and Violence (31% globally). Peak levels of concern about crime and violence are seen in South Africa (62%), Mexico (61%), Peru (60%), Chile (51%) and Brazil (49%). Germany (43%) sees a 10-point upsurge in concern about crime and violence over the previous month. Worry about crime and violence is now lowest in Saudi Arabia and Poland (11%), closely followed by Russia and Hungary (13%).

5)    Healthcare (24% globally). Highest levels of concern about healthcare are seen in Hungary (70%), Poland (55%), Brazil (41%) and China (40%) and lowest ones in South Korea and Argentina (5% both), Turkey and Mexico (6% both) and Malaysia (8%).

What Worries the United States? 

1)    Healthcare (36%) remains the top worry in the U.S., as has been the case most months since the first wave of What Worries the World in 2010, except for brief periods when concern about crime and violence spiked.    

2)    Crime and Violence (31%) is the second greatest concern in the U.S. and shows a 3-point increase over the previous month. However, the U.S.  ranks only in 13th place among the 28 countries surveyed when it comes to the percentage of people most worried about crime and violence.  

3)    Immigration Control (29%) is the third most mentioned concern in the U.S. Only four European countries (Germany, Belgium, Italy and Sweden) show higher percentages of people citing immigration control as a top worry.  

4)    Financial and Political Corruption (28%) now ranks as the #4 concern in the U.S. after a 4-point jump from the previous month.  Yet, 16 countries show a higher percentage of citizens citing financial and political corruption as a key concern.

5)    Moral Decline (23%) ranks as the fifth most important issue in the U.S. Only four countries show a higher percentage of citizens concerned about it (Serbia, China, Malaysia and Japan). 

Top five global issues                              Top five United States issues
1) Fin./Political corruption (34%)       1) Healthcare (36%)
2) Unemployment (33%)                        2) Crime & violence (31%)
3) Poverty/Social Inequality (33%)    3) Immigration control (29%)
4) Crime & Violence (31%)                     4) Fin./Political Corruption (28%)
5) Healthcare (24%)                                 5) Moral decline (23%)

Technical note: 

  • For media enquiries please contact Nicolas Boyon at nicolas.boyon@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. 
  • 20,787 interviews were conducted between August 24 – September, 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 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.

Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. Through our media partnerships, Ipsos Public Affairs is a leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and internationally. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

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 fourth in the global research industry.
With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)

  • Nicolas Boyon Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs

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