What Worries the World - February 2017

The majority (62%) of people around the world think things in their country are on the wrong track. Unemployment currently occupies the top spot for global concern with 38% saying this.

What Worries the World - February 2017

The author(s)

  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos, UK
  • Bobby Duffy Ipsos MORI, Social Research Institute, UK
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New study finds that majority of people across 25 countries think their country is on the wrong track – Mexico, Italy, South Korea, South Africa, France and Brazil are the most concerned.

Right track or wrong direction?

The study shows that China leads as the single most optimistic country with 91% thinking their country is on the right track, followed by India (75%), Saudi Arabia (73%) and Russia (64%).  Most countries, though, have much higher levels of discontent, notably Mexico, Italy, South Korea, South Africa, France, and Brazil, all of which have over eight in ten saying their country is going in the wrong direction.

Across the world, men tend to be happier than women (41% of men say their country is on the right track, against 35% of women), as are those on high income (45% right track, vs 33% of those on low incomes) and those with higher levels of education (41% right track, vs 33% those on lower levels of education).

Worries of the world

When looking at the issues that drive sentiment in the 25 countries, unemployment is once again the single biggest worry – mentioned by 38% of people globally. Despite this, long term trends show that unemployment has been decreasing since 2012 when half across all countries said this worried them. Spain continues to be the country most worried about unemployment (68%), closely followed by Italy (65%) and South Korea (62%).

Financial and political corruption remains the second most common worry of the world at 34%. South Koreans continue to be the most worried in the world about this issue, with 74% saying it is a concern. Following the impeachment of president Park Geun-hye in December last year, the proportion who felt this was a concern dropped slightly. However, since January it has slowly been rising to the current level. Corruption is also a big worry in South Africa (57%), Hungary (55%) and Mexico (55%).

Poverty and social equality (33%) is the issue people across the world worry about next. Hungary has the highest level of concern at 62%. Russia and Israel are in joint second place with 51% of their citizens worried about it.

Concern about terrorism is highest in countries with recent or ongoing exposure to incidents. Turkey remains the country most worried about terrorism in the world – at a huge 73%, followed by Israel (48%), France (42%) and Germany (39%). Terrorism has slipped to fourth place as the most worrying issue for Britons (26%).

Crime and violence is a key worry for 29% of people on average, with Peru (67%), South Africa (61%) and Argentina (54%), Brazil (52%) and Mexico (50%) in the top five. In Peru and Argentina, crime and violence is their primary worry. 

China is more worried about climate change (20%) and threats against the environment (43%) than all the other countries.

Top five global issues

  1. Unemployment (38%)
  2. Financial/Political Corruption (34%)
  3. Poverty/Social Inequality (33%)
  4. Crime & Violence (29%)
  5. Healthcare (23%)
18,029 interviews were conducted between January 20th and February 3rd 2017, among adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, Israel and the US and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. The survey was conducted in 25 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.

The author(s)

  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos, UK
  • Bobby Duffy Ipsos MORI, Social Research Institute, UK

Society