• Inflation is pushing up the prices of essential goods such as food, transport and utilities.
  • More than two-thirds of people around the world are feeling the squeeze, according to new research.
  • As the cost of living rises, the poorest in society are suffering most.

Ipsos surveyed over 20,000 people in 30 countries and found that at least half also reported increases in the cost of clothing and shoes, housing, healthcare and entertainment. Two-fifths of respondents expected prices to continue rising for at least the next three months.

Experts say the price of oil is a major driver of inflation because it is used to make and deliver goods.

Around the world, seven out of 10 people in the Ipsos survey said they had experienced rising prices for vehicle fuel, car payments, maintenance, parking and public transport, as well as groceries, meals and restaurants.

Perceived cost increase for various categories.
Transportation was the area with the largest percentage increase in people seeing significantly higher prices.
Image: Ipsos

Two-thirds said they had seen their utility costs go up - including electricity, gas, water, phone and internet charges. While 55% said clothing and shoes were more expensive, 51% reported higher housing, medical and healthcare pricing and 49% said entertainment had become more costly.

Inflation is toughest on the poorest people in society, the US Congress Joint Economic Committee confirmed in a November 2021 report. The lowest-earning 20% of US households spend 4.5 times more of their income on housing and food and 3.5 times more on transportation than those in the top 20%, it said.

Reporting rising prices

The nation with the greatest number of people worried about rising inflation was Argentina where the official annual inflation rate hit 52.5% in October 2021, according to Reuters.

Perceived cost increase for average of seven categories by country.
Most people around the world feel the cost of essential products and services has increased.
Image: Ipsos

The nations where fewest people reported rising prices were Japan, where consumer price inflation was 0.1% in October, and China, where the same month’s figure was 1.5%.

Expected increase in household spending.
In the last six months, over a third of people reported much higher utility bills.
Image: Ipsos

Fears about continuing price rises were strongest among women and under-35s, according to Ipsos, with upper-income groups expressing the most concern.

Data from international organizations bears out many of the perceptions revealed in the survey. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says global food prices rose by 27.3% in the 12 months to November 2021.

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

Future outlook for inflation

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says inflation in its 38 member states will reach 5.21% at the end of 2021 and, in the US, inflation hit a 30-year high of 6.2% in November 2021.

But what about the year ahead? The International Monetary Fund says it expects global inflation to fall back in 2022 once the effects of steep rises in sectors like energy have worked through the figures.

However, contributors to the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economists’ Outlook in November 2021 disagreed about whether inflation would prove temporary or become a major headache for the global economy in 2022.

But they added a warning that in lower- and middle-income countries with less stable central banks, price pressures had been building more quickly throughout 2021 and were “at a greater risk of getting out of hand”.