What Worries the World? June 2021

Concern about Coronavirus falls to the lowest level seen in our tracker so far.

The author(s)

  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK
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Our headline findings from the June 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, down 6 points on last month and down 14 points since the start of the year.
  • The level of concern about Covid has eased markedly over the last month in a number of countries, particularly in Turkey, Canada, Netherlands, Italy and Hungary. For Brazil, on the other hand, the trend is moving in the opposite direction.
  • Coronavirus still occupies the number one spot when it comes to what people around the world are most worried about, closely followed by Unemployment and Poverty/Social Inequality.
  • Malaysia, Japan and India remain the countries most concerned about the pandemic.


1. Covid-19

On average, 36% worldwide say Coronavirus is one of the biggest issues facing their country today. This is down 6 points on last month, and concern is running at markedly lower levels than the 50% we recorded in January and February. (The highest level we ever recorded was 63%, in April 2020).
Malaysia (76%), Japan (63%) and India (62%) are once again the countries most concerned nations regarding the pandemic. In line with recent months, people in Israel (7%) Russia (13%) and Hungary (14%) are the least concerned about Covid-19.
Since the last reading, concern about Coronavirus has fallen most in Canada (-21 points), Hungary (-19), Italy and the Netherlands (both -17), and Turkey (-14).
Overall, 19 nations have seen a drop in concern about Covid-19 over the last month. But it remains the single top worry in 10 of the 28 nations surveyed – as well as joint-top in the Netherlands, alongside Healthcare.
However, six countries have seen increases in concern about Coronavirus, most significantly Brazil (+10 points to 56%).

Malaysia remains the nation with the highest levels of worry about Coronavirus for the ninth consecutive month: 76% of the public put it among their country’s top issues (+2 from May 2020). In the top 3, Japan’s score is now at 63% (-5) and India is at 62% (-4) today.

2. Unemployment

Unemployment is currently the second greatest worry in our survey with 34% saying it is one of the most important issues facing their country today. This is down slightly from the 37% recorded at the beginning of the year and the peak of 42% seen in May 2020.
Two in three South Africans (64%) consider jobs to be among their country’s chief concerns. This is also true of 59% in Italy and Spain. People in these three countries show greater concern about Unemployment than any other issue in our survey.
The largest month-on-month increases in concern about Unemployment are seen in Mexico (+9), Malaysia (+6), and the US (+5).

3. Poverty & social inequality

One in three (32%) on average say that Poverty & social inequality is one of the top issues in their country today.
It is the number one concern in Russia, where the proportion of the public worried about it stands at 56% (a 5-point drop from last month).
Since the last wave, concern about this issue has increased in Hungary and Canada (both +7). Meanwhile, Turkey has seen a 14-point drop in concern from last month, with 31% mentioning it in this month’s survey.

4. Financial/Political Corruption

Financial/Political Corruption is the fourth greatest global concern, a position it has held for 12 months. Our study shows 30% on average count it among the big issues facing their country today.
Hungary is the country currently most concerned about corruption (60%, up 6 points since last month). However, the greatest month-on-month rise is seen in Turkey, where 30% now mention this topic, marking a 10-point increase from the last wave.

5. Crime & violence

Crime and 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.
There has been a 10-point increase in concern about this issue in France compared to last month to 42% - the highest score since 2013. We have also seen an 8-point rise in Argentina. Both share the 5th highest score at 42%.
When set against all the other issues, Crime and Violence is currently the number one concern in Chile, France, Mexico, Sweden and the US.


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. This is little changed on last month, but does represent a rather gloomier outlook than this time last year when 58% said this was the case.
Colombia is once again the country with the highest score on the “wrong track” monitor (recording 89% this month). South Africa and Peru are also at the gloomier end of the spectrum, both with 83%.
The largest month-on-month increase in the proportion saying things in their country are on the “wrong track” is seen in Hungary (+7 points to 77%).
On the other hand, the Netherlands has seen a 14-point increase in the number of people saying things are heading in the right direction (now 53%). We also see 8-point rises in Italy (to 39%), Mexico (to 41%) and Spain (to 31%).
In the US, 48% of people now believe the nation is heading in the right direction. This score is 23 percentage points higher than the level recorded at the start of the calendar year.



The author(s)

  • Teodros Gebrekal Public Affairs, UK