What Worries the World - May 2020

The coronavirus pandemic continues to be the world’s greatest worry, but it is giving way to greater concern about unemployment in some countries.

The author(s)

  • Simon Atkinson Ipsos Knowledge Centre, UK
  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK
Get in touch

Our latest What Worries the World survey finds that 55% of respondents globally say that COVID-19 is among the biggest issues facing their country. This is lower than the 63% recorded in the previous month, when coronavirus was first introduced into the survey, but it remains significantly higher than the other issues rounding out the top 5.

The countries where citizens are most concerned about coronavirus include Malaysia (74%), Japan (73%) and Great Britain (71%). This issue ranks top in 18 of the 27 nations surveyed, down from 24 of 27 last month.

The big change since last month is that six countries have seen unemployment replace COVID-19 as the number one issue. These are Argentina, Italy, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.

Across all countries, concern about Unemployment is up seven percentage points on last month, taking overall concern to 42% - the highest level seen in five years. Unemployment concern is most prevalent in Spain (66%), Italy (65%), and South Africa (60%).

In just three countries does an issue other than COVID-19 and unemployment emerge as the top issue: Hungary (Healthcare), Mexico (Crime & Violence) and Russia (Poverty & Social Inequality).

Meanwhile, our survey finds a mixed picture of optimism for the future as most people say that their country is on the wrong track (55%) as opposed to heading in the right direction (45%). This varies greatly across the 27 countries.

We see the greatest proportion of respondents saying their country is on the right track in Saudi Arabia (91%), India (72%) and Malaysia (68%), while just one in four say the same in Chile (24%) and France (25%).
Read more detailed results in our summary decks.

The author(s)

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

Society