What Worries the World - May 2024

Conducted monthly in 29 countries among a panel of over 20,000 adults for more than a decade, What Worries the World survey offers an exceptional snapshot of world opinion on pressing global issues.

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.

Inflation remains the number one concern for the 26th consecutive month, although worry is now at its lowest level since April 2022.

Key findings

  • Inflation has been the number one global concern overall in our What Worries the World survey since March 2022.
  • However, worry over rising prices is at its lowest level since April 2022. 
  • The Dutch show the lowest level of optimism in nearly two years. This month sees a “country going in the wrong direction” score of 79% - this is the lowest since October 2022 (82%).
  • For the first time in nearly a decade, Italians no longer have unemployment as their biggest issue. Now at 34%, it has been overtaken by health care (36%).

Inflation

Thirty-four per cent say inflation is one of the three biggest issues affecting their country, no change from last month.

Since inflation became the prominent headline in the publication in April 2022, Argentina has consistently occupied the top spot as the most concerned nation, with only two exceptions: September and October 2022, when Poland emerged as the most worried country. This May, however, sees the nation drop to fourth after concern fell sharply by 12pp to just over half (51%) concerned.

The US is continuing its rise from last month. They are up 5pp in a month, with half (50%) now worried about prices; this is 9pp up on January this year.

Health care

The proportion mentioning health care as an issue is just under a quarter (23%), no change compared to last month.

Hungary consistently has health care as its primary concern and this month is no different. However, the number citing it this May has fallen by 12pp compared to April 2024.

For the first time, Italians have health care as their number one concern after steadily increasing since September 2023. This month’s concern rose 4pp to a third (32%) expressing worry. This is also the highest level of worry in a decade for Italy on this issue.

Great Britain also lists health care as a top issue. Although it is down slightly to two-fifths (39%).

Unemployment

Just over a quarter (27%) chose unemployment and jobs as a worry this month, with no change from last month.

This month has some notable cases. For the first time in nearly a decade, Italians no longer have unemployment as their top concern. Still, at 34%, it has only been overtaken by health care (36%).

Of the countries that list unemployment as their primary concern, South Africa remains steady at 67%, only marginally increasing. Colombia (45%) is up slightly – since February 2024, it has increased 8pp. And, for the first time since January 2023, India now has concern about jobs top, rising 7pp to 44%. Spain is the outlier, down 6pp to just over a third (34%).

Poland is at its highest worry about unemployment in four years – rising 13pp to 25%.

Military conflict between nations

One in ten (11%) pick military conflict between nations, a slight uptick from last month.

Israel’s score has reached the highest level for any country in our records for this issue. Rising significantly by 10pp this month, the nation now has half (49%) picking military conflict as their single greatest concern. Since October 2023, the proportion of Israelis mentioning it has gone up 33pp.

In Europe, we see marginal and gradual increases in levels of worry. Concern in Poland remains high, only decreasing fractionally to 39%. Italy and Germany are both up by a small amount (to 19% and 24%, respectively).

Hungary’s mentions are up the most in Europe, with a 4pp increase to one in ten (10%). In March 2024, they were at 4%.

Right direction vs wrong track monitor

Just under four in ten (38%) across 29 countries think their country is headed in the right direction. This is unchanged from the previous month and 3pp less than the beginning of this year.

Ahead of the Netherlands forming its new government, the nation has slipped down the list to three-fifths (79%) now saying their country is off track. This is the lowest score for the Dutch since October 2022 when the level was as high as 82%.

Chile and Poland have seen the biggest fall in their “country wrong direction” score since January, both down 13pp.

Conversely, India is at its joint highest level for “country going in the right direction” this year, up 5pp to nearly three-fifths (78%).

What Worries the World - Past editions

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