“What Worries the World?”: COVID-19 is the biggest concern for the sixth successive month

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On average, 45% of people around the world now say COVID-19 is one of the top issues facing their country. This is in line with August’s figures, which saw 46% putting the pandemic on their list of top concerns.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been reporting that Coronavirus has claimed the title of the world’s greatest concern in our 27-country What Worries the World survey. Since we began tracking public anxieties of the virus against 17 other issues in April 2020, it has maintained its top position month after month.

The same is true for September’s results: 45% of people globally say that COVID-19 is one of the biggest issues facing their country today.

“What Worries the World brandspurng COVID-19 is the biggest concern for the sixth successive month1
Source: Ipsos Global Advisor

What Worries the World: September’s top 5

What Worries the World: September's top 5
Source: Ipsos Global Advisor

Looking back on 6 months of data, we can see some trends emerging from today’s unstable reality.

The four major worries globally are:

  1. COVID-19 (45%): Included for the first time in April, COVID-19 is still the highest-scoring global issue this month. South Korea (72%), Australia (63%), Japan (60%) and Malaysia/Spain (58%) are now the nations most worried about this issue. The pandemic is the single greatest concern for 14 of the 27 surveyed nations and additionally is the joint top worry for Brazil (alongside Healthcare). The twelve “discrepancies” are: Argentina(Crime/violence), Belgium (Poverty/Social inequality), Chile (Unemployment & Poverty/Social inequality), Germany (Poverty/Social inequality), Hungary (Healthcare), Italy (Unemployment), Mexico (Crime/violence), Poland (Healthcare), Russia (Poverty/Social inequality), South Africa (Financial/Political corruption), Spain (Unemployment) and Sweden (Crime/violence)
  2. Unemployment (39%): Levels of concern about unemployment remain similar to last month. The highest levels of worry are seen in South Africa (62%) closely followed by Spain (61%) and Italy (59%).
  3. Poverty/Social inequality (30%): Concern about Poverty/Social inequality is in line with August; once more Russia (scoring 58%) has the highest levels of concern about this the issue, followed by Chile (50%).
  4. Crime & violence and Financial/Political corruption (27%): The proportion citing Crime/Violence has increased slightly, by 3 points from last month. Sweden (65%) is now the most concerned nation about this issue, ahead of Mexico (61%) and South Africa (52%). South Africa (67%) is also the nation most concerned about Financial/Political corruption.
  5. Financial/Political corruption (27%).
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“What Worries the World brandspurng COVID-19 is the biggest concern for the sixth successive month3
Photo by Thomas de LUZE

The onset of Coronavirus – added to the survey for the first time in April – caused a divergence among our survey’s historical top 5 issues. It dominated the leader board for the first couple of months but, as COVID-19 concern began to fall to (comparatively) more moderate levels, some issues have begun to move back towards their pre-COVID levels (such as Poverty & social inequality), even if it is too early to feel we can see what the “new normal” settling might look like.

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Unemployment concern is now at a higher level than we’ve been seeing over the last 12 months, with an average of four in 10 across the 27 countries being worried about joblessness. Meanwhile, worries about Crime & violence are climbing, in what might indicate a new trend.

The top 10 countries currently most concerned about Unemployment are:

  • South Africa (63%)
  • Spain (61%)
  • Italy (59%)
  • India (53%)
  • South Korea (51%)
  • Chile (50%)
  • Malaysia (50%)
  • Australia (49%)
  • Mexico (48%)
  • Peru (43%)

Coronavirus concern

In 14 of the 27 countries, COVID-19 is the top concern – the same number as last month. The 14 now includes Israel, South Korea and Turkey, while Belgium and Germany have Poverty & social inequality move into their top spot and Brazil’s main worry splits between Coronavirus and Healthcare.

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Nations in the Asia-Pacific region appear to be most concerned about Coronavirus. The top 10 in September are:

  1. South Korea (72%)
  2. Australia (63%)
  3. Japan (60%)
  4. Malaysia (58%)
  5. Spain (58%)
  6. Great Britain (56%)
  7. India (55%)
  8. Peru (55%)
  9. Saudi Arabia (54%)
  10. The US (54%)
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How do we feel about the future?

What Worries the World: September's top 5
Source: Ipsos Global Advisor

Across the 27 nations, more than six in ten (62%) say that things in their country are on the wrong track. The countries where larger majorities are concerned about where things are heading are South Africa (86%), Belgium (78%), Chile (76%), Spain (74%) and France (73%).

We have seen the greatest increases on this “wrong track” measure in Great Britain (+8), Italy (+6), Argentina (+5) and Spain (also +5) since last month.

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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.

20,085 interviews were conducted between August 21st 2020 and September 4th 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.

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“What Worries the World?”: COVID-19 is the biggest concern for the sixth successive month - Brand Spur“What Worries the World?”: COVID-19 is the biggest concern for the sixth successive month - Brand Spur

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