“What Worries the World?”: COVID-19 is the biggest concern for the 5th successive month, with worries on the increase in a number of countries.

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46% of people around the world see Coronavirus as one of the top issues affecting their country today. Our latest What Worries the World survey shows spikes in concern in many nations.

This marks a rise from the July survey, which saw COVID-19 listed as the most important concern in 11 out of 27 countries. Current levels of concern, while high, remain well down on a few months ago. Back in April, when coronavirus was first added to the survey questionnaire, 25 of the 27 surveyed markets had cited the pandemic as the greatest worry.

What Worries the World is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 75 in 27 countries comprising Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

Q2 2020 Real GDP Shrinks by 6.10% as Oil & Gas, Trade Sectors Contract amid COVID-19 Pandemi What Worries the World
Photo by Ayoola Salako on Unsplash

On average, 46% of respondents around the world now say COVID-19 is the top issue facing their country. This is a small increase from July when 43% cited the pandemic as the greatest concern albeit rather lower than the high of 63% registered when coronavirus was first added to the survey in April.

The four major worries globally are currently: COVID-19, Unemployment, Poverty and Social Inequality Financial/Political Corruption and Crime and Violence. This is the same sequence as July.

  1. COVID-19 (46%): Included for the first time in April, COVID-19 is still the highest-scoring global issue this month with a slight rise on July’s levels. Japan (70%) and Australia (67%) are now the nations most worried about this issue with 61% citing it among their main concerns from the 18 issues presented to them. Next are Malaysia (61%) Spain (60%) and Great Britain (58%). The pandemic is the single greatest concern for 14 of the 27 surveyed nations and is a joint top worry for Israel alongside Healthcare. The twelve “outliers” are Argentina (Unemployment), Chile (Poverty and Social Inequality), Hungary (Healthcare), Italy (Unemployment), Mexico (Crime and Violence), Poland (Healthcare) Russia (Poverty and Social Inequality), South Africa (Unemployment), South Korea (Unemployment), Spain (Unemployment), Sweden (Crime and Violence) and Turkey (Unemployment).
  2. Unemployment (40%): Concern about unemployment remains the same as last month. The highest levels of concern are seen in South Africa (63%) closely followed by Italy (62%) and Spain (61%).
  3. Poverty and Social Inequality (30%): The rise in concern about poverty and social inequality has eased, which mentions down very slightly (by 2 percentage points) this month. Once more Russia (scoring 57%) has the highest levels of concern about this issue, followed by Chile (54%).
  4. Financial/Political Corruption (27%): Global worries about financial and political corruption are consistent with last month. South Africa (62%) is now the most concerned nation about this issue, ahead of Hungary (53%) and Russia (52%).
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The study finds that most people across the 27 countries surveyed say that their country is on the wrong track. Globally, 39% think their country is heading in the right direction while 61% say things are on the wrong track. This score is unchanged from last month; and rather lower than the score 3 months ago; back in May, 45% gave a positive score.

In the United States, just 26% are confident about the trajectory their country is heading.

This score marks a 9-percentage point drop from two months ago and an 18-percentage fall since January when the US’s score placed it among the top 5 most positive nations in our 27-market survey.

Looking at how many say their nation is on the wrong track (61% on average), we find South Africa (84%), Belgium (82%), Chile (76%) and the US (74%) most worried about their country’s direction of travel.

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Read Also:  “What Worries the World?”: Concern about COVID-19 is at its highest level since May 2020

On the other hand, ten nations have seen an increase in national optimism from last month with thirteen nations showing a drop. The biggest changes are Russia (+ 10 percentage points) and Malaysia (- 10 percentage points).

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.

19,016 interviews were conducted between July 24th, 2020 – August 7th, 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.

In 17 of the 27 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, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Great Britain and the United States.

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The remaining 11 countries surveyed: Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Peru, 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.

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