What Worries the World - March 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 has now been the number one concern for two years.

For the past 24 months, rising prices has been top of our list, outlasting Coronavirus’ record of 18 months.

The cost-of-living concern two years on

Key findings

  • Inflation has been the number one global concern overall in our What Worries the World survey for the last two years (24 months).
  • In February 2023, worry about inflation was at its peak, with 43% concerned.
  • Thirty-five percent across 29 countries now choose rising prices as a one of their top concerns.
  • Worry about health care has increased slightly this month, with Great Britain (44%) and Hungary (64%) listing it as their primary issue.
  • Military conflict between nations concern continues to rise in some parts of Europe, with Poland (where it is mentioned by 34%) now registering it as their second biggest issue.

Inflation

Two years on, inflation remains the number one concern among 29 countries. In March 2022, concern was 26%, and it was Coronavirus which was the top worry worldwide. The following month inflation became the number one concern in What Worries the World for the first time, with 32% choosing it as an issue, and it has now remained at the top of our list of global worries for the last 24 consecutive months.

This time last year the level of worry was at 42%, which was the first month of a very gradual decline.

However, ten countries have inflation as their top concern, which is one fewer than last month – Argentina, Türkiye, Canada, Singapore, Australia, Poland, France, the US, India, and Germany.

Argentina is the most worried nation in March 2024 (65%) and has held this position since November 2022.

Crime & violence

Three in ten (30%) mention crime & violence as a worry in their country, no change from last month.

Crime & violence is a prominent concern in Latin America. Of the six countries who register it as their primary worry, five are from LATAM – Peru, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia. In Argentina, the other LATAM nation in the survey, 39% mention crime & violence, and it is the country’s third biggest issue.

Chile’s score (61% single it out as a concern) has dropped 8pp from its highest recorded score for crime in What Worries the World last month. Likewise, Mexico has significantly fallen by ten points to just over half (53%) worried, after being the second most concerned country last month.

Poverty & social inequality

Mentions of inequality as a worry have not changed this month (30%). Levels of concern about inequality have remained broadly steady over this recent period, and we have consistently recorded around three in ten being worried since May 2023.

Indonesia is now the most concerned with nearly one in two (47%) mentioning inequality – a slight uptick from last month. Despite worry being higher than all other countries, it’s not the top concern for Indonesians. Fifty-five percent of Indonesians are worried about corruption.

Concern in Israel has experienced an increase of five percentage points in March rising to nearly a quarter (23%) saying inequality is an issue. December 2023 saw the nation’s lowest level of worry at 16%. It is now creeping back up to similar levels we saw in 2023.

Health care

The proportion saying health care is a worry for their country is just above a fifth (22%), increasing marginally.

Health care is Great Britain’s primary concern this month after rising six percentage points to over two-fifths (44%) mentioning it. Historically, this is the third-highest score ever for Britain, behind February 2023 (47%) and February 2018 (49%).

Hungary (64%) also puts it as their top concern and has done so since September 2023.

After a nationwide doctor strike in February, South Korea has experienced the largest jump in worry about health care, increasing by 16pp to just under a quarter (22%). This is the highest level for the nation in our records.

Military conflict between nations

One in ten (10%) pick military conflict between nations across 29 countries - no change from last month.

Last month Israel recorded its highest level of concern for military conflict between nations with 45% singling it out as a top worry. This month’s score is unchanged from February, remaining at its highest level.

Meanwhile, across Europe, we see a few countries’ levels of concern steadily rise. It’s now Poland’s second biggest worry after increasing five points to just over a third (34%). Germans have also become more concerned, rising six points to a quarter (26%). Lastly, France (15%) is up five points and Belgium (14%) has risen four points.

Great Britain is an outlier in Europe after decreasing 6pp this month to 14%.

Right direction vs. wrong track monitor

Across 29 countries, 38% say their country is headed in the right direction, a slight decrease from last month.

Great Britain this month has experienced the biggest fall in optimism, dropping 14pp. Twenty-one percent of Brits mention their nation in heading the right direction. This is GB’s lowest score since November 2022, when it was 16%.

France is now second to bottom after decreasing 5pp to 18%. This is a historic low for the French – April 2019 saw a level of 16% for its “right direction” score.

Elsewhere in Europe, though, Spain (38%) and Italy (32%) have both seen increases of 5pp and 4pp, respectively.

Note: Our data-checking protocols have prompted some changes to the India data previously reported for the February wave of this study. The “global country average” figures for India have been updated accordingly.

What Worries the World - Past editions

February 2024 |  January 2024 | December 2023 | November 2023 | October 2023 | September 2023 | August 2023 | July 2023 | June 2023 | May 2023 | April 2023 | March 2023

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