"What Worries the World?": COVID-19 is the biggest concern for the eighth successive month

Global concern about Coronavirus is once more on the increase. We approach the end of the year with almost two-thirds across 27 nations saying that things in their country are on the wrong track.

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.

As many countries deal with a second wave of COVID-19 cases and new restrictions, 47% of our respondents worldwide say Coronavirus is one of the biggest issues facing their country today. This is up 3 percentage points on last month and is the first increase recorded since August 2020.

The social and political issues that are most concerning to people around the world have remained relatively stable over the past few months, as the spike in concern about COVID-19 has levelled out to more moderate heights, albeit it still historic in terms of our long-running survey.


Malaysia is the country most concerned about COVID-19 for the second consecutive month. Great Britain and Spain also remain in the top 3 with small increases in each.

Sweden sees a significant increase in concern about Coronavirus (+22) this month. Scores are also up in Belgium (+15), Italy (+14), Hungary (+14), France (+10) and Mexico (+10).


Unemployment is currently the second greatest worry worldwide with 38% selecting it as one of the most important issues facing their country today. This reflects the emerging trend of concern about job security during COVID-19.

South Africa is most concerned about this issue (65%), followed by Spain (60%) and Italy (59%). More than 50% in South Korea and Malaysia also say this is a top issue in their country. Malaysia shows the greatest monthly increase on this issue, of +7 percentage points.

Are we heading in the right direction?

Globally, 36% think their country is heading in the right direction while 64% say things are on the wrong track. Generally speaking, people are less positive about the immediate outlook than a few months ago. That said, there are noticeable disparities by country.

The biggest recent change on this measure is seen in Poland, where a 13-point increase from last month makes it the least optimistic nation of all 27 today, with 87% saying that things in their country are on the wrong track.

South Africa and France also score highly, with 80% saying things are on the wrong track. Meanwhile, more than three-quarters of the public in Belgium (79%), Spain (77%) and Turkey (76%) also take a pessimistic view about where their country is heading.

The survey was conducted in 27 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The 27 countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, 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 of America. 20,006 interviews were conducted between October 23rd 2020 and November 6th 2020 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.

Find previous months’ releases of our What Worries the World survey here.