What Worries the World: Coronavirus concern rebounds

46% of people around the world see Coronavirus as one of the top issues affecting their country today. Our latest What Worries the World survey shows spikes in concern in many nations.

The author(s)

  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs, UK
  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos Knowledge Centre, UK
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COVID-19 has been primary preoccupation for individuals, societies and governments around the world throughout this year. This is reflected in our 27-country What Worries the World survey: since we began tracking levels of concern about Coronavirus relative to 17 other social and political issues, it has held the top spot – now for five consecutive months.

Serving as a reminder that Coronavirus is not likely to go away any time soon, our August results show that the proportion of respondents saying that COVID-19 is one of the most important issues facing their country today has actually increased by 3 percentage points from last month, to 46%. This marks a change in direction from the gradual decline we had been seeing since April 2020.

The latest results may reflect anxiety in response to increases in cases of COVID-19 in some locations and the threat of re-entering local or national lockdowns. (The fieldwork was carried out between 26th July – 4th August).

This month sees coronavirus becoming the top issue once again in Belgium, France and Germany, where we see significant increases in concern compared to last month (+21 percentage points in Belgium and +8 points in both France and Germany).

However, these three countries are by no means the most preoccupied with the threat coronavirus. We see the highest levels of reported worry in Japan (70%), Australia (67%), Malaysia (61%), Spain (60%) and Great Britain (58%). This chart shows the ten countries most concerned about coronavirus in August, and how they have changed from last month.

Looking ahead

Overall, six in ten (61%) respondents across 27 nations say that things in their country are heading in the wrong direction – the same percentage as last month and the lowest so far in 2020.

The countries least satisfied with where things are heading are:

  • South Africa (84%)
  • Belgium (82%)
  • Chile (76%)
  • United States (74%)
  • Hungary (73%)
  • Japan (72%)
  • France (72%)
  • Peru (70%)

For the United States, the figure of 74% saying that things in their country are on the wrong track represents a historic low in the nation’s optimism. It marks a dramatic change from the start of the year when 56% said the same. Comparative to other countries, the US was the fifth country most satisfied with where things were heading in January 2020, but it now sits at the other end of the scale among the countries with the gloomiest outlook.

Read more in our summary report of our What Worries the World survey in August 2020.

The author(s)

  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK
  • Gideon Skinner Public Affairs, UK
  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos Knowledge Centre, UK