What Worries the World – February 2021

Almost two-thirds (64%) of the public across 27 countries say things in their country are heading in the wrong direction. Coronavirus remains the number one concern in our global survey – a place it has occupied for almost a year.

Our monthly What Worries the World survey, which tracks levels of public concern about a range of social and political issues in 27 countries, shows that Coronavirus is still top of mind when it comes to what people are worrying about in their country. Level with last month, the global country average for concern about COVID-19 is currently at 50%.

Unemployment is second in our 18-issue ranking, followed by Poverty & social inequality, Financial/political corruption, and Crime & violence (moving up from sixth place to replace Healthcare.


With over three-quarters (77%) selecting COVID-19 as a top issue, Malaysia is the country showing highest levels of concern about the pandemic this month.

Coronavirus is also a worrying topic for two in three people in Great Britain (68%), Spain (67%) and Japan (66%).

The largest increases in concern about Coronavirus since last month are seen in Belgium (+11 points), France (+10) and Israel (+10).


Unemployment is currently ranked second in our survey. On average across all countries, 37% select it as one of the most important issues facing their country today.

Italy is the nation most concerned about jobs, with 63% of saying this is a top issue in their country.

A similar score in South Africa (61%) puts this country second out of the 27 in terms of unemployment concern. Spain is once again in third with 57%.


Poverty/social inequality

On average, three in ten (30%) across all nations say Poverty & social inequality is one of the top issues in their country today.

Russia continues to be most concerned nation in our survey. Last month’s 6-point increase is repeated in February, marking a steep increase from 51% in December 2020 to 63% today.

Other countries showing recent rising concern about Poverty & social inequality include Japan (+6 points to 36% since last month), Poland (+6 points to 23%) and Malaysia (+5 points to 23%). 


Financial/political corruption

Financial/political corruption is the fourth greatest global concern, with 27% on average saying it is one of the big issues facing their country today.

Russia is also at the top of the table on this issue: 57% select corruption as a worrying topic, a 9-point increase vs. January 2021.

South Africans almost match Russia’s score, with 56% of citizens saying this is a top concern in their country today.

Peru, Hungary and Malaysia complete our list of the five nations most worried about Financial/political corruption.

Looking ahead

In February 2021, the global country average of those saying things in their country are heading in the wrong direction is 64%. This, alongside our November 2020 reading, is the most pessimistic score seen over the past year.