What Worries the World - Autumn 2017

New global poll finds unemployment remains the top issue around the world. What Worries the World study finds the majority of people across 26 countries think that their country is on the wrong track — South Africa, Italy, Brazil and Mexico being the most concerned. Argentina and Poland have seen the biggest increase in optimism.

The author(s)

  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos Knowledge Centre
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“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

It finds that the majority of people across 26 countries think that their country is on the wrong track (59% on average) which has remained consistent over the past four months. But there are a very wide range of different scores across the world:

  • China, India and Saudi Arabia remain as the top three countries most positive about their nation’s direction of travel. 92% in China think their country is going in the right direction, 74% in India and 72% in Saudi Arabia. Since July of this year, optimism has risen by 5 points in China, and also by five points in Saudi Arabia since August.
  • At the other end of the spectrum — South Africa is the most anxious about its country’s direction of travel. Only 8% think their country is going in the right direction, followed by 15% in Italy and 16% in Brazil.
  • Argentina and Poland have seen the greatest move in perception this month. 55% of Argentinians now say that their nation is heading in the right direction— an 11 percentage point increase from last month. Poland has seen a nine percentage point increase to 42%. Serbia and Brazil have also seen increases.
  • The biggest falls this month have been in Peru (down 8 points), Russia (down 6), France and England (both down 5).
  • In Britain, seven in ten (72%) think the country is on the wrong track, a rise of 16 percentage points since April this year. This is the joint worst score since March 2013 in this series.

The three major worries for global citizens all remain consistent with the previous month:

  • Unemployment is still the primary global worry, with the highest levels of concern in Italy (65%) and Spain (62%). Concern in Spain, Serbia and South Korea are each down by 4 percentage points. Reflecting previous months, Germany is the least worried, with only 12% citing unemployment as a worry (and only 15% in Britain).
  • Financial/political corruption follows, with South Africans most concerned (66%). Germany is now the country least concerned at 7%, falling behind the Swedes (9%).
  • Poverty/social inequality is the third most common worry, with the highest level of concern in Serbia (56%) and Russia (53%). The US has the lowest level of concern for this (18%).

Top five global issues

  1. Unemployment (35%)
  2. Financial/Political Corruption (33%)
  3. Poverty/Social Inequality (32%)
  4. Crime & Violence (30%)
  5. Healthcare (23%)
The survey was conducted in 26 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. 21,044 interviews were conducted between August 25th – September 8th 2017 among adults aged 18-64 in the US, Israel and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)

  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos Knowledge Centre