What Worries the World - March 2018

New global poll finds three concerns top the world’s worry list: financial/political corruption (35%), unemployment (34%) and poverty/social inequality (34%).

What Worries the World - March 2018

The author(s)

  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos, UK
  • Bobby Duffy Ipsos MORI, Social Research Institute, UK
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The What Worries the World study finds most people across the participating 28 nations believe their country is on the wrong track (58%), with Mexico (89%), Brazil (88%), Spain (81%) and Italy (80%) recording the highest levels of concern.

In South Africa, we can see the effect of Cyril Ramaphosa becoming  the new ANC party leader. Optimism in South Africa has hit a seven-year high: this month 52% of its citizens believe things are headed in the right direction. This is a 20-percentage-point increase since February, and an increase of 42 percentage points since December 2017, when South Africa was at the foot of the optimism table. Although not much have changed in the country so far there seems to be high hopes the new president will bring about a positive change to the nation.

The second biggest shift this month was in Sweden, where optimism rose eight percentage points to 47%, the highest score in that country since October 2012.

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

It finds that most people across the 28 countries think that their country is on the wrong track (58% on average) But there are very wide-ranging differing scores across the world:

  • Once again, Chinese people remain the most confident about their nation’s direction with 94% believing their country is going in the right direction. Despite a seven-point fall, Saudi Arabia (67%) remains in second place. South Korea (66%) is now the third most positive nation, just ahead of India (65%).
  • At the other end of the spectrum — Mexican, Brazilian and Spanish citizens are the most concerned about the direction taken by their country. Just 11% of Mexicans think their country is going in the right direction, followed by 12% in Brazil and 19% in Spain.
  • The largest drop in optimism has been in Germany, where 30% now believe their country is headed in the right direction — a fall of eight points since February. The second-largest decrease was recorded in Saudi Arabia (down seven percentage points since last month)
  • Optimism among Britons has risen by six percentage points since February, with 35% now saying the country is headed in the right direction.

The three major worries for global citizens are:

  1. Financial / political corruption (35%), Peru (65%) is the most anxious nation about this followed by Malaysia on 59%. India (51%) has seen the largest increase in concern over the past month with an upturn of 12 percentage points. Sweden (8%) and Germany (9%) are the two least apprehensive countries – positions they have occupied since July 2017.
  2. Unemployment (34%), The highest levels of concern are in Italy (66%), Serbia (64%) and Spain (63%). Serbia is also the country with the biggest increase from the previous month, with a rise of seven percentage points. For the seventh consecutive month, Germans are least worried about this issue — just 11% of Germans mentioned unemployment as a worry.
  3. Poverty / social inequality (34%), The highest levels of worry are in Serbia (58%), Russia (56%) and Germany (54%). Concern about this topic is lowest in the US (19%), as it was for the whole of 2017.

Top five global issues

  1. Financial/Political Corruption (35%)
  2. Unemployment (34%)
  3. Poverty/Social Inequality (34%)
  4. Crime & Violence (31%)
  5. Healthcare (24%)
The survey is conducted monthly in 28 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. An international sample of 20,314 adults aged 18-64 in Canada, Israel and the US, and aged 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed between February 23rd 2018 and March 9th 2018.

The author(s)

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

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