Financial and Monetary Systems

Cost of living crisis: 1 in 4 people in the developed world are struggling, poll shows

Cost of living crisis: A person counting money with three stacks of coins.

The cost of living crisis is being felt across the globe. Image: Unsplash/Towfiqu barbhuiya

Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • An Ipsos poll for the World Economic Forum finds a quarter of people in 11 developed countries are struggling financially.
  • In Turkey, six in 10 people expect their standard of living to fall, followed by two-fifths of those in Great Britain and France.
  • Concerns about the rising price of grocery shopping, vehicle fuel, and energy bills were widespread in the survey.
  • People plan to cut down on food bills, heating, electricity use and socializing - and delay decisions on large purchases.

The COVID-19 pandemic, rising energy and food bills, and the impacts of the war in Ukraine are contributing to a cost of living crisis being felt across the globe.

As many as 1 in 4 people are struggling financially, according to a new Ipsos poll of 11 developed countries for the World Economic Forum.

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Two-thirds of respondents in Turkey (67%) reported finding it ‘quite’ or ‘very difficult’ to manage, compared to a sixth (16%) of both Americans and Germans.

A majority of people are facing cost of living crisis in several countries.
A majority of people are facing cost of living crisis in several countries. Image: Ipsos

The largest group of respondents said they were ‘just about getting by’ – 34% overall and over half (54%) of those in Poland. Only a tenth (11%) of people are living comfortably and less than a third (29%) feel they are doing alright.

Personal finance outlook for 2022

Most people expect their standard of living to fall over the coming year. Respondents in Australia, the US and Canada were the most optimistic, with more people believing their standard of living would rise ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ than fall.

Many people are not optimistic for their personal finance outlook in the future, due to the cost of living crisis they face.
Many people are not optimistic for their personal finance outlook in the future, due to the cost of living crisis they face. Image: Ipsos

In Turkey, the majority of people (61%) expect their standard of living to fall, followed by two-fifths of those in Great Britain and France.

Very few people expect their disposable income to rise. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed in Turkey (63%) and Britain (60%) expect to see less money available after paying bills.

Being able to pay household bills was among the main financial concerns. Almost three-quarters of people in Turkey (72%) and six in 10 people in Poland (62%), Great Britain (60%) and Spain (59%) were worried about how they were going to pay bills in the next six months.

The rising cost of food and fuel

Concerns about the rising price of grocery shopping, filling up on petrol, and energy bills were widespread.

Most people (79%) across all 11 countries expect the cost of food shopping to rise - with almost nine in 10 people in Britain concerned about paying for groceries.

It comes as a separate survey found one in seven UK adults live in homes where they or someone else had gone hungry, skipped meals or reduced portions to get by.

More than three-quarters of people also expect rises in utility bills, with British people the most likely to expect an increase (89%), followed by the French (85%), Germans and Poles (both 84%).

How people will cope with the rising cost of living crisis

Impact of cost of living crisis on lifestyle
Impact of cost of living crisis on lifestyle. Image: Ipsos

As the cost of living crisis starts to bite, socializing will take a hit as people prepare to reduce costs. They’re also planning to cut down on food bills, heating, electricity use and delay decisions on large purchases.

But relatively few people said they would ask for a pay rise, borrow money or move into cheaper accommodation.

The rising cost of living is seen as being driven by external and global factors in most countries: the state of the global economy (77%), the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (76%) and the COVID-19 pandemic (72%).

But policies of national governments are also seen to be playing a role in rising prices by 70% of people, including 80% in Turkey, 76% in Poland and 72% in the US.

A note on the methodology

The Ipsos online survey was conducted in 11 countries in April 2022: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the United States.

The results are comprised of an international sample of 11,030 adults aged 16-74 in most countries and aged 18-74 in Canada, Turkey and the United States. Approximately 1,000 individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Financial and Monetary SystemsEquity, Diversity and InclusionForum InstitutionalEconomic Growth
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