What Worries the World - September 2019

Globally, just 39% think their country is heading in the right direction. The top worries globally are unemployment, crime/violence, financial/political corruption and poverty/social inequality.

The Ipsos What Worries the World study finds the majority of people across the participating 28 nations feel their country is on the wrong track (61% on average), with South Africa (85%), Italy (83%), Spain (79%) and Great Britain (77%) revealing the greatest levels of concern.

“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 74 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.

The study finds that most people across the 28 countries surveyed say that their country is on the wrong track (61% on average – which up 4 points from the previous month). But there are widespread disparities in scores across the 28 surveyed nations.

Right Direction

In line with previous trends, Chinese citizens remain the most confident about their nation’s direction with 93% believing their country is heading in the right direction. Saudi Arabia (82%) also remains in second place with India (72%) in third-place ahead of Malaysia (52%).

  • Hungary (25%) has the highest increase in optimism this month, where national confidence increased 4-percentage-points. There were no other notable increases in positivity this month.

Wrong Track

  • South African, Italian, Spanish and British respondents have recorded the greatest levels of worry about the direction taken by their nation. Only 15% of South Africans believe their nation is currently heading in the right direction, followed by 17% in Italy, 21% in Spain and 23% in Great Britain.
  • Italy is also the nation with greatest drop-off in positive sentiment — with a reduction of 16 points from the previous month.
  • There is also a 12-point fall in optimism in Israel (42%) from the previous month when the nation was the fifth most optimistic nation surveyed. Similarly, Saudi Arabia (82%) has also seen a 9% drop in national confidence from the previous month. Other falls are seen in Argentina (-8), Turkey (-8), South Africa (-7) and Sweden (-7)

The four major worries globally are:

  1. Unemployment (33%). South Africa (64%) is the nation which is most anxious about this issue, closely followed by Italy 62% and South Korea on 58%. Reading trends, Saudi Arabia (43%) has the greatest month on month increase in this worry, with a 10-percentage points rise. South Korea is also the nation with the biggest decrease in this worry with an 8-percentage point drop from the previous month. Once again, Germany (9%) is the least worried nation along with Poland (10%) on this issue.
  2. Crime & Violence (31%). The peak levels of worry for this fear are observed in Mexico and South Africa (65%) with Peru (61%) following in third once more. Sweden (54%) has the greatest upsurge in this worry from the previous month with a rise of 9 percentage points – this score is the highest for the nation since a peak in February 2018 (56%). Worries around this issue are lowest in Russia (8%), Saudi Arabia (11%) and Poland (13%). There is a 7-point month on month drop in this anxiety within Italy (26%).
  3. Financial/ Political Corruption (31%). The highest levels of concern are seen in Peru and South Africa (60%) followed by Russia (53%). There are noteworthy increases in concern (+5 points) in Chile (39%) Argentina (35%) and US (23%).
  4. Poverty/Social Inequality (31%). The greatest levels of anxiety are held in Russia (58%), Serbia (49%) and Germany (45%). US citizens (17%) are the least worried in this matter, closely followed by both Sweden and Saudi Arabia (22%). Argentina (+7) and Israel (+6) have the peak increases in worry this month.
  5. Healthcare (25%)
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. 19,531 interviews were conducted between August 23rd, 2019 – September 6th, 2019 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.
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.