Health and Healthcare Systems

This is what the world is worrying about right now

Two boys in India making toys in front of a temple.

Many countries are prioritizing poverty and social inequality as well as many other issues. Image: Unsplash/Atul Pandey

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • COVID-19 has fallen to third place in a global ranking of the world’s top worries.
  • Poverty, social inequality and unemployment now outrank the pandemic, Ipsos finds in its What Worries The World? report for October 2021.
  • Climate change comes tenth on the list, although the long-term anxiety trend is growing.

The world is worrying more about poverty, social inequality and unemployment than about COVID-19, a new survey shows.

The latest Ipsos What Worries the World? survey for October 2021 finds it’s the first time in 18 months that coronavirus has been knocked off the top spot of world worries.

To compile the rankings, market research firm Ipsos tracks public opinion on the most important social and political issues today across 28 countries. It draws on 10 years of data to put the latest scores in context.

“Coronavirus has fallen to number three this month, with a seven-point dip in its global country average score,” Ipsos says.

Have you read?
Full list of the most worried about topics in the world.
Coronavirus is no longer the world’s top concern, finds Ipsos. Image: Ipsos Global Advisor

World’s biggest worry

Poverty and social inequality are now the world's top worries. On average, 33% of people surveyed across all countries say these are primary concerns – the highest recorded since February 2020.

Unemployment is the world’s second biggest worry, Ipsos says, ranked by 30% of people on average.

After coronavirus in third place, financial and political corruption, and crime and violence, are the world’s fourth and fifth top worries, Ipsos finds.

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How concerned are people about the climate?

Climate change comes in at number 10 as a world worry, behind healthcare, education, taxes and inflation. But Ipsos data shows the long-term anxiety trend is upwards.

“Across all countries, 15% on average consider climate change to be one of the most worrying topics in their country today,” Ipsos says, as world leaders meet in Glasgow for the COP26 United Nations climate change conference.

Long term trend of the top countries most concerned about climate change.
Climate change is currently tenth in the table of world worries, but concern is rising over time. Image: Ipsos Global Advisor

Country differences

People in Canada, Germany and Australia are the most worried about climate change.

The countries most worried about poverty and social inequality are Hungary and Russia, followed by Colombia and Brazil.

(%) Worried about in October 2021 in each country (Poverty & Social Inequality).
Hungary and Russia worry most about poverty and social inequality. Image: Ipsos Global Advisor

In South Africa, two-thirds of people (67%) say unemployment is a top worry, Ipsos says. More than half of survey respondents in Spain, Italy and Colombia agree.

Malaysia is the country most worried about COVID-19, with 64% of survey respondents choosing this as a top worry. Mexico, Germany, Peru and Brazil have all seen significant falls in the proportion of the public ranking the pandemic as a key concern.

The survey was conducted online with more than 20,000 adults aged 18-74 in Canada, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey and the United States, and 16-74 in all 21 other countries.

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Related topics:
Health and Healthcare SystemsClimate ActionEquity, Diversity and Inclusion
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