What Worries the World - February 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 is the number one concern for the 23rd consecutive month

However, worry has been falling for the fourth month in a row, reaching similar levels to May 2022.

Key findings

  • Inflation is the number one global concern in our What Worries the World survey for the last 23 consecutive months. This is the fourth month in a row it has fallen in worry.
  • Thirty-four percent across 29 countries choose rising prices as a one of their top concerns.
  • Across all 29 countries, the level of worry about crime & violence has risen slightly since last month, with five of the six most worried countries being from LATAM.
  • Unemployment is now India’s top concern after rising marginally to two-fifths (40%).
  • Military conflict between nations ranks ahead of terrorism in the number of people mentioning it (10% vs 9%). Israel’s concern level (military conflict is singled out by 45%) is up four points from last month, exceeding November’s score of 43%.

Inflation

Around a third (34%) choose inflation as a top concern in their country. This number has been decreasing for the last four months, now reaching its lowest point since May 2022 (34%). This time last year we recorded the highest level of worry for rising prices at 43%.

11 countries this month have inflation as their top concern – Argentina, Singapore, Canada, Australia, Türkiye, Poland, France, South Korea, Great Britain, the US and Germany.

Some parts of Europe are witnessing an increase in worry about rising prices. Belgium has just over a third (34%) worried after a month on month increase of 10pp. Great Britain is also up by 7pp to 40% and France, too, is up by 4pp to 44%.

Poland (46%) has reached their lowest level of worry since December 2021, when it was 47%.

Crime & violence

Three in ten (30%) across 29 countries choose crime & violence as a worry in their nation, up slightly from last month.

Sweden (53%) had the second-highest score last month but has since dropped 10pp. This is now the lowest recorded score for Sweden since May 2023.

This month one more country lists crime & violence as their top worry, making the total six. After Ecuador declared war on gangs in January, five of the six Latin American countries on our list have crime as their primary concern.

Seven in ten (69%) Chileans mention crime & violence, up 5pp from January, which is now the highest level of worry for the nation in our records.

Mexico’s level of worry (63%) is relatively heightened this month after increasing 8pp. Sweden’s concern is also remaining high, moving up 7pp to 60%.

Unemployment

Just over one in four (26%) across 29 countries choose unemployment as one of the biggest concerns in January. This is a slight decrease from last month.

For South Africa (65%), worry remains elevated, with a slight increase this month.

Employment is now India’s top concern, overtaking inflation, after rising 2pp to two-fifths (40%). However, on a historic level, this is relatively normal. For context, this time last year worry was at 45%.

Italy and Spain both have unemployment as their top concern, with just over a third (35%) worried. This is relatively low looking at the long-term trends. Italy’s peak was 69% (December 2016) and Spain’s was 74% (July 2016).

Climate change

Climate change is mentioned as a worry by 17%, a slight uptick from last month.

The Netherlands is the most worried again this month, with nearly three in ten (28%) worried, although this is unchanged from last month.

Colombia, on the other hand, has experienced significant change from January, reaching a record high of a quarter (25%) mentioning it, up 16pp. This is the highest level since we started consistently measuring Colombia in March 2021, when the level was 4%.

Military conflict between nations

Military conflict between nations has risen in our placings from 13th to 11th this month after the proportion mentioning it marginally increased. It is now ahead of terrorism.

Israel’s level of worry remains elevated and continues to rise from last month. This month sees 45% listing it, up 4pp.

February 24th marks two years since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Across Europe, we see the level of concern increase. Notably, Great Britain (20%) is up 11pp on last month. The Netherlands (19%) has increased by 8pp, Poland (29%) by 6pp, Germany (20%) by 5pp, and France (11%) has risen by 4pp.

Right direction vs. wrong track monitor

Two-fifths (40%) say their country is headed in the right direction, a slight decrease from last month.

Argentina and Poland’s right direction scores have cooled off this month after experiencing two months of post-election highs. Argentina is down 6pp to 60%, whereas Poland has only decreased slightly by 2pp to 55%.

Elsewhere, Singapore and India have switched places in their right direction scores since last month. Singapore (76%) is now third after decreasing 10pp. Conversely, India is now joint first with Indonesia, with four in five (80%) saying the country is doing well. This is 10pp higher than January’s score.

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