What worries the world? September 2017

Unemployment remains the top issue around the world — but in Britain, healthcare and terrorism lead as biggest worries. Seven in ten Britons think the country is on the wrong track – the worst it has been since 2013.

What worries the world? September 2017

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Aalia Khan Social Research Institute
Get in touch

What Worries the World study finds the majority of people across 26 countries think that their country is on the wrong track — South Africa, Italy, Brazil and Mexico being the most concerned. Argentina and Poland have seen the biggest increase in optimism.

“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 65 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.
It finds that the majority of people across 26 countries think that their country is on the wrong track (59% on average)
which has remained consistent over the past four months. But there are a very wide range of different scores across the world:

  • China, India and Saudi Arabia remain as the top three countries most positive about their nation’s direction of travel. 92% in China think their country is going in the right direction, 74% in India and 72% in Saudi Arabia. Since July of this year, optimism has risen by 5 points in China, and also by five points in Saudi Arabia since August.
  • At the other end of the spectrum — South Africa is the most anxious about its country’s direction of travel. Only 8% think their country is going in the right direction, followed by 15% in Italy and 16% in Brazil.
  • Argentina and Poland have seen the greatest move in perception this month. 55% of Argentinians now say that their nation is heading in the right direction— an 11 percentage point increase from last month. Poland has seen a nine percentage point increase to 42%. Serbia and Brazil have also seen increases.
  • The biggest falls this month have been in Peru (down 8 points), Russia (down 6), France and England (both down 5).
  • In Britain, seven in ten (72%) think the country is on the wrong track, a rise of 16 percentage points since April this year. This is the joint worst score since March 2013 in this series.

The three major worries for global citizens all remain consistent with the previous month:

  • unemployment is still the primary global worry, with the highest levels of concern in Italy (65%) and Spain (62%). Concern in Spain, Serbia and South Korea are each down by 4 percentage points. Reflecting previous months, Germany is the least worried, with only 12% citing unemployment as a worry (and only 15% in Britain).
  • financial/political corruption follows, with South Africans most concerned (66%). Germany is now the country least concerned at 7%, falling behind the Swedes (9%).
  • poverty/social inequality is the third most common worry, with the highest level of concern in Serbia (56%) and Russia (53%). The US has the lowest level of concern for this (18%).

What worries Britain

Healthcare and Terrorism are on a par in the British public’s mind, and have a clear lead as the top issues of concern (at 42% and 41% respectively).

Following recent attacks, concern about terrorism has risen by 9 points from May of this year, and remains as a top issue this month. Britain is the 4th most worried about terrorism in the world, having previously occupied 8th place in May.

Healthcare also continues to be a top concern at 42% — a 3 percentage point increase from last month. Britain is still the 4th most concerned country about this issue more than most other countries. However, concern about remains below its recent peak at 48% in March 2017.

Three in ten (30%) of the British population are worried about poverty & social care – a rise of 11 points since March 2010 (though still only mid-table compared to other countries).

Concern about immigration has fallen by 21 percentage points since March 2016 where it was at 50%. However, it is still one of the top five issues in Britain, and higher than many other countries around the world.

Top five global issues Top five Great Britain issues
1) Unemployment (35%)  1) Healthcare (42%)
2) Financial/Political Corruption (33%) 2) Terrorism (41%)
3) Poverty/Social Inequality (32%) 3) Poverty & social inequality (30%)
4) Crime & Violence (30%) 4) Immigration control (29%)
5) Healthcare (23%)  5) Rise of extremism (28%)

 

Commenting on the findings, Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute, said:

The rise in the proportion of Britons who think the country is on the wrong track reflects a generally worsening trend since 2015, but one that has gotten worse again after the June general election. This mirrors other Ipsos MORI data showing that more people have become dissatisfied with the Prime Minister and her government since then, while pessimism about the economy has also increased. Meanwhile, healthcare, terrorism/extremism and immigration are higher up Britons’ priority list than in many other countries around the world. In a global context, though, we are relatively less concerned about unemployment and corruption.

    Technical note:

  • The survey was conducted in 26 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries included are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. 21,044 interviews were conducted between August 25th – September 8th 2017 among adults aged 18-64 in the US, Israel and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.
  • In 16 of the 26 countries surveyed, internet penetration is sufficiently high to think of the samples as representative of the wider population within the age ranges covered: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Poland, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and United States. Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey have lower levels of internet penetration and so these samples should instead be considered to represent a more affluent, connected population. These are still a vital social group to understand in these countries, representing an important and emerging middle class. 
  • Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. With offices in 87 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

 

The author(s)

  • Gideon Skinner Head of Political Research
  • Aalia Khan Social Research Institute

More insights about Public Sector