What Worries the World - February 2022

The global public’s top 5 concerning issues remain unchanged, with Covid-19 still top. But inflation now ranks 6th with almost one in four (23%) worldwide now saying it is a worry in their country.

The author(s)
  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK
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Our monthly What Worries the World survey explores what the public thinks are the most important social and political issues across 28 countries today, drawing on 10 years of data to place the latest scores in context. This wave was carried out between January 21st 2022 - February 4th 2022.

Key findings

  • Coronavirus is still the world’s number one worry; 33% on average say it is one of the biggest issues facing their country today (-2 points vs. January 2022).
  • Inflation overtakes Healthcare to become the sixth most worrying issue worldwide; 23% across all countries select it. Great Britain sees the greatest increase in concern about inflation (+12 points to 31%).
  • Japan is now the country most concerned about Covid-19 (+10 points to 56%), followed by South Korea (52%) and Australia (50%).
  • The top 5 global issues have the same rank order and there have been minimal percentage changes vs. last month: Covid-19 (33%), Poverty/social inequality (31%), Unemployment (29%), Financial/political corruption (27%), Crime and violence (26%).
  • 63% on average say that things in their country are heading in the wrong direction.
  • The same proportion (63%) rate their economy as ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ bad.

Coronavirus (33%)

A 2-point decline from the last wave, Covid-19 is still the top concern worldwide with one in three considering it a worrying issue for their country. The 33% seen today is significantly lower than this time last year (50% in Feb 21).

Japan is now the most worried about Covid-19, overtaking 6 countries with a 10-point increase in reported concern vs. last month. It last held this position in Jan 2021.

Also showing notable increases vs. last month are Mexico (+8), Russia (+7) and India (+6). On the other hand, concern falls most in Great Britain (-13), Netherlands (-11) and Argentina (-10).

In this latest release, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands drop out of the group of countries where Covid-19 is the top-ranked concern while India re-joins it. (Full list: Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the US).

Poverty & Social Inequality (31%)

The proportion worldwide who count poverty and social inequality among the top concerns in their country is level with January’s score, at 31%. Concern is greatest in Russia, where over half (57%) say it is a top worry. Next are Brazil, Hungary, and Turkey, where 43% in each say that poverty/social inequality is an important concern for their country.

Netherlands has seen a large increase in concern, up 10 points vs. last month and 18 points in total vs. December’s score.

Poverty and social inequality is the number one concern in Russia, Brazil, and now France.

Unemployment/Jobs (29%)

In third position overall is concern about unemployment and jobs. At 29% today, it was 8 points higher (37%) 12 months ago.

South Africa is the country showing the highest levels of concern about jobs by a wide margin (64%). Next are Italy (50%), South Korea (46%) and Spain (also 46%), followed closely by Colombia (45%).

The proportion who say they are worried about jobs is up by 7 points in Turkey and 5 points in both Mexico and Peru since the last reading.

Unemployment is currently the top issue in South Africa, Italy, Spain, and Colombia.

Financial/political corruption (27%)

Concern about corruption is highest in South Africa, where 57% say this is a top issue. Malaysia (55%) and Hungary (53%) record similarly high levels of concern. A 10-point drop puts Peru in fourth this month (45%), more in line with scores seen in Colombia and Russia (44%).

Great Britain records the largest month-on-month increase in concern about corruption (+7 to 25%), the highest ever recorded in the nation and 15 points higher than this time last year.

Crime & violence (26%)

Crime and violence is the fifth greatest concern in our global issues tracker. Across all counties, it is selected by 26% (a percentage that is unchanged in 5 months).

Despite a 7-point drop since last month, concern is highest in Sweden (59%). Over half of citizens in Mexico (54%), Peru (52%) and South Africa (51%) also select crime and violence and a top issue for their country today.

The largest increase is seen in Belgium (+6 on last month) while Argentina and Spain both see 10-point drops.

Issue focus: Inflation

Concern about inflation is at record-high levels globally. It sits at 23%, an increase of 3 points since last month, and has overtaken Healthcare to be 6th in our list of 18 issues of concern. It ranked 13th with an average score of 9% concerned 12 months ago.

Argentina and Poland show the highest levels of concern about inflation (56% in each), followed by Turkey (51%). Great Britain sees the most dramatic increase this month (+12 to 31%), followed by France (+9 to 22%).

23 out of 28 countries record an increase in concern about inflation compared to last month.

Heading in the right direction?

Across the 28 nations surveyed, 63% on average say that things in their country are on the wrong track while 37% think they are heading in the right direction.

For the third consecutive month, Peru is the country with the largest proportion of respondents saying that their country is heading in the wrong direction (86%). This sentiment reaches similar levels in Colombia (84%). With them, South Africa, Poland, and Argentina comprise the 5 gloomiest nations this month.

Focus on the economy

Across all countries, 37% on average say that the current economic situation in their country is ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ good, while a majority (63%) say that it is ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ bad.

Saudi Arabia remains the country where people are happiest with the economy (93%), followed by India (78%, up 6 percentage points from last month) and Sweden (67%).

We see a more positive economic outlook in Malaysia and Spain, both up 4 points from last month to 43% and 28% respectively.

Only 11% in Argentina consider the economy to be in good shape, placing it at the bottom of the 28-country ranking, unchanged from last month.

The perception of the economy as ‘good’ has dropped most since last month in Canada (-6), Chile (also -6) and France (-5 points).

Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey is conducted in 28 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States.
19,022 online interviews were conducted between January 21st 2022 - February 4th 2022 among adults aged 18-74 in the US, South Africa, Turkey, Israel and Canada and age 16-74 in all other countries. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
The author(s)
  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK