What Worries the World?

79% of online South Africans believe the nation is on the wrong track, however, this feeling of unease with the direction a country is taking is rather widespread

  • Globally, just 39% think their country is heading in the right direction; 61% say things are off on the wrong track.


  • Crime and Violence is the single greatest worry amongst online South Africans. This is very closely followed by unemployment and financial/political corruption.


  • The top worries globally are Poverty/Social Inequality, Unemployment, Crime and Violence and Financial/Political corruption.


This latest What Worries the World survey results (for January 2020) finds the majority of people across the 28 participating nations feel their country is on the wrong track (61% on average), with Italy (83%), South Africa (79%), France (79%) and Spain (78%) expressing the highest levels of anxiety about the future.

Right Direction?


In line with previous trends, Chinese citizens are once more most assured about their nation’s direction with 90% believing their country is heading in the right direction. It would be interesting to look at the upcoming February results, as this current survey was conducted before the outbreak of the corona virus in Wuhan, China.


Saudi Arabia (78%) remains in second place with India (58%) in third place, ahead of Brazil (46%).


  • Argentina (+16 points) and Great Britain (+15 points) have seen the greatest upsurges in national optimism this month (Keep in mind that Britain was anticipating leaving the EU on 31 January), (to 39% and 40% respectively). There are no other significant increases in positivity this month.
  • Italian, South African, French and Spanish respondents have the greatest concerns this month about their country’s direction of travel. Just 17% of Italian citizens think their country is going in the right direction, followed by 21% in South Africa/France and 22% in Spain.
  • India (58%) is the nation with largest drop-off in positivity— with a reduction of 11 points from the previous month. The survey also records a 9-point fall in optimism in Malaysia (40%).



The four major worries globally are:


  1. Poverty/Social Inequality (34%). Russia (with 60%) is the nation which is most worried about this issue, followed by Chile (55%) and Hungary on 52%. Hungary is also the country with the greatest month-on-month increase in this worry, with a 9 percentage point rise. There is also a notable rise in apprehension with an 8 percentage point increase to 42% in Belgium. Once more, the US (where it is only mentioned by 22%) is the single least concerned nation on this issue.


  1. Unemployment (31%). The highest levels of concern are seen in South Africa (62%) and Italy (58%) closely followed by South Korea (57%). India (55%) is the nation with the greatest rise in worry for this measure with a 11 percentage point increase from the previous month. Apprehensions around unemployment are lowest in the Netherlands (7%), Germany (9%) and Poland (11%).


  1. Crime and Violence (30%). The greatest levels of worry are once again reported in Mexico (66%) with Peru and South Africa (both 63%) closely following. India (40%) is the nation with the greatest increase from the previous month, with a rise of 7 percentage points.


  1. Financial/Political Corruption (30%). South Africa (scoring 58%) has the highest number of respondents concerned about this issue, followed by Russia (57%) and Malaysia (53%). Malaysia is also the nation which records the greatest increase in apprehension about this issue with an increase of 8 percentage points from the previous month.


What Worries online South Africa?



The five major worries for online South African citizens are:


Top 5 concerns in South Africa

Global Scores

SA’s Rank amongst the world

Crime and Violence (63%)



Unemployment (62%)



Financial / Political Corruption (58%)



Poverty / Social Inequality (29%)



Education (22%)





The top 5 worries for online South Africans have remained constant since 2011 with Crime & Violence and Financial and Political Corruption jostling for top spot in each wave. Unemployment has recently taken over as second from Financial and Political corruption, perhaps unsurprisingly given the recent spates of retrenchment adding to our already over-burdened unemployment rate.


What Worries the World _ SA


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