What Worries the World? July 2021

Concern about Coronavirus is fluctuating from country to country.

The author(s)

  • Natalie Pearson Ipsos, UK
  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK
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Our headline findings from the July 2021 wave of our What Worries the World survey include:

  • Across 28 countries, 36% say that Covid-19 is one of the top issues facing their country today. This is the joint lowest level seen in our survey so far, equal with last month and down 14 points since the start of this year.
  • Worry about Coronavirus has eased in 14 countries compared to last month, but it has become more pronounced in 13 others.
  • We see larger jumps in levels of Covid-19 concern in Israel, Russia, South Africa and Australia. Meanwhile, it has fallen most in India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Canada over the past month.
  • After Coronavirus, the issues that people around the world are most worried about are Unemployment, Poverty/Social Inequality, Financial/political corruption and Healthcare.
  • Overall, 63% say that things in their country are off on the wrong track, vs. 37% who say they are going in the right direction.

WWW July 2021

1. Covid-19

On average, 36% worldwide say Coronavirus is one of the biggest issues facing their country today. This is in line with last month and almost half the level we first recorded when we began tracking concern about the issue in April 2020 (63%).

Malaysia (76%), Japan (59%) and South Korea (57%) are the nations most concerned about the pandemic. Sweden now shows the lowest levels of concern (14%), followed by Hungary (15%), Turkey (22%) and Belgium (also 22%).

In Israel, where only 7% placed Covid-19 among their nation’s top issues last month, there has been a 19-point rise to 26%. Other month-on-month increases include Russia (+17 points to 30%), South Africa (+13 points to 42%), and Australia (+10 points to 52%).

Since the last reading, concern about Coronavirus has fallen most in India (-18 points), Brazil (-13 points) and Saudi Arabia (also -13 points).

Covid-19 is the single top worry in 10 of the 28 nations surveyed – as well as joint-top in the Netherlands (alongside Crime & violence) and Germany (alongside Poverty/Social Inequality).

2. Unemployment

Unemployment is the world’s second greatest worry, according to our survey. On average, 32% say it is one of the most important issues in their country today. This is down from the 37% recorded at the beginning of the year.

South Africa is once again most concerned about jobs (62%), followed by Italy (55%) and South Korea (51%).

Spain’s concern has eased by 10 points to 49% in July, putting it level with Colombia in joint 4th/5th place. The largest monthly increase for this issue this month is in Malaysia (+5 points).

3. Poverty & social inequality

Three in ten (31%) on average say that Poverty & social inequality is one of the top issues in their country today.

This is most prominent in Russia, where 58% of the public say they are concerned about Poverty & social inequality. Hungary (45%) and Colombia (44%) follow.

A 9-point increase in concern in Turkey sees the nation return to the top 5 with 40%. Israel and Malaysia also record increases of 8 points while the issue has fallen by 11 points in Mexico and 9 points in Hungary this month.

4. Financial/Political Corruption

Financial/Political Corruption is ranked fourth in our list of world worries as 30% on average count it among the big issues facing their country today.

South Africa, the country most concerned about this issue, currently has a level of concern at twice the global country average (60%). Also showing high levels of concern about corruption are Colombia (55%), Peru (53%), Hungary (51%) and Malaysia (also 51%).

The largest month-on-month increase in concern about this issue is seen is Peru (+8 points).

5. Crime and Violence

Crime & violence is the fifth greatest worry globally with one in four (26%) across all countries selecting it as one of the most important issues facing their country today.

Sweden is once again the country most concerned about Crime & violence, with 63%. More than half (57%) of Mexicans also consider this a pressing issue in their country today.

While June saw a 10-point increase in concern about Crime & violence in France, this has been reversed this month (-10 points to 32%). Elsewhere, there has been an 11-point increase on this issue in the Netherlands.

Focus on Climate change

With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) taking place this autumn, we take a special look at concern about environmental issues in our survey.

Our global country average shows that 14% across the 28 nations surveyed consider climate change to be among the top issues facing their country today. Levels of concern are highest in Canada (32%), Germany (30%) and Australia (28%).

This month’s global average score marks a small 3-point increase since June 2021. The recent pre-pandemic high was 16%, last recorded in March 2020. We may be seeing early signs of this issue increasing in prominence as concern about Covid-19 subside; this is something we will be monitoring over the coming months.

Some countries show increases in worry about climate change compared to last month, including Canada (+10 points), France (+8) and Japan (+7).

Top 5 countries most concerned about change today – a 5-year trendWWW July 2021

Looking back to one year ago, in July 2020, Australia and the Netherlands shared the top spot for concern with 25%, followed by Germany (24%) and Canada (22%). In July 2019, Germany was at the top of the ranking with 34%.

The highest score recorded for climate change concern was 39% in Australia in February 2020, following the devastating bushfires of 2019/2020.

Heading in the right direction, or off on the wrong track?

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

This numbers are the same as last month, relatively unchanged since January 2021 (62% vs. 38%) and one year ago (61% vs. 39%), but is on balance more pessimistic than in July 2019 (57% vs. 43%).

The countries where most people say that things are heading in the wrong direction are Colombia (88%) and Peru (86%), followed by South Africa (83%) and Turkey (82%).

The largest month-on-month increases on our “wrong track” monitor this month are the Netherlands (+12), Malaysia (+8) and Saudi Arabia (+8).

The author(s)

  • Natalie Pearson Ipsos, UK
  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK