“What Worries the World?”: The answer is still, predominantly, Coronavirus

COVID-19 continues to lead our ranking of the top global concerns for the ninth consecutive month as we round out the results of our global survey in 2020.

Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey tracks public opinion on the most important social and political issues across 27 countries today, drawing on 10 years of data to place the latest scores in context.

The elevated global concern about Coronavirus recorded over the past few months has not abated. Almost half of our respondents worldwide (47%) say that COVID-19 is one of the top issues facing their country, level with last month. This is the ninth month that the virus has occupied the top spot, following its first inclusion as a survey category in April 2020.

Malaysia is the country most concerned about COVID-19 (69%) and Great Britain is second (65%), in line with recent months. While the numbers in Malaysia have been falling, they’ve been creeping up in Great Britain (see chart below). We see greatest increases in reported concern compared to last month in Canada (+7), Japan (+11) and South Korea (+10) – which now take 3rd, 4th and 5th position in the overall ranking.

The chart below shows the levels of concern in December’s top 10 countries compared with the previous two months’ results.

Unemployment is the second greatest issue across all countries, with 37% saying this is one of the most worrying topics facing people in their country today. Italy and South Africa are currently the nations most concerned about unemployment and jobs (mentioned by 59% in each). Spain is just behind with 58%. Month-on-month concern has increased most in France (up 7 percentage points to 32%).

Poverty & social inequality is the third most pressing global worry according to our survey: 29% overall select this. Russia continues to be the country most concerned (51%), followed by Chile (45%) and Hungary (42%) – this order keeping in line with previous months. Again, a significant increase in concern about this issue in France (+13 percentage points) means one-third of the population now place poverty and social inequality in the most important issues facing their country.

Financial/political corruption, at 27% and number four in our survey, is a top concern for 59% of South Africans today. There has been an 8-point increase in Peru, taking the total to 53% and putting the country in second place on this measure. Malaysia (48%), Russia (47%) and Hungary (46%) complete the top five.

Crime & violence is ranked fifth globally, with 24% on average saying this is among the most worrying issues in their country today. Levels of concern are highest in South Africa (58%), Mexico (54%) and Sweden (50%). Indeed, Crime & violence is the number one issue for people in Mexico and Sweden.

How does the public feel about where things are heading in their country?

Across the 27 nations, more than six in ten (62%) on average, and a majority in 23 countries, say that things in their country are on the wrong track. This is equal to the same point in time last year, in December 2019. However, there have been changes at country level.

The countries where larger majorities say things are heading in the wrong direction today are Poland (82%), South Africa (80%), France (80%) and Belgium (79%). Poland is most pessimistic nation for the second month running.

Last year, Poland had a mid-table ranking, with 65% saying things were on the wrong track. Italy was the leading nation on this measure with 85% troubled about the country’s direction of travel. France and South Africa were in a near-identical position to today, recording the second and third lowest scores, with 82% and 81% respectively.

Returning to the month-on-month pattern, Chile has seen an 11-point drop on the “right direction” measure compared to November’s results. Meanwhile, the picture is more optimistic in both Turkey and the Netherlands, which both record an 11-point increase since last month.

For more information, please see December’s What Worries the World global summary report.

Country reports are available in some local languages. If you would like to receive these, please contact [email protected].

See previous months’ results.