More than half of Australians believe that their country is on the wrong track

  • 55% of Australians think that their country is going in the wrong direction, down from 57% in October
  • Unemployment, crime & violence and healthcare remain as top concerns for Australians
  • Two in five across the 25 countries in the study worry about unemployment

New Ipsos research finds there has been a small drop among Australians saying things in Australia are on the wrong track (now 55%, down from 57% in October).

“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under 65 in Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.

It finds that across all countries in the study, the percentage of people who think things are going in the right direction in their country has dropped 2% since last month to 37%.

How this compares across the world

The study also shows countries in the BRIC and APAC regions tend to be the most optimistic. China is the single most optimistic country, with 90% saying things are headed in the right direction.

People in the other regions covered by the survey are on balance more likely to say things are going badly, with LATAM and Europe the most pessimistic regions. For example, the vast majority of Mexicans say things are off on the wrong track in their country, and only 4% of Mexicans think that things are going in the right direction, a decrease from 11% last month.

Fieldwork for the study was undertaken prior to the recent US presidential election, however the number of US citizens who think things are going in the right direction stands at 35%, down 2% month on month. Canada is the only western country with a majority (54%) thinking things headed in the right direction.

What do we worry about?

Top five world issues                                           Top five Australia issues
1) Unemployment (38%)                                   1) Unemployment (40%)
2) Poverty & social inequality (34%)               2) Crime & Violence (31%)
3) Financial/political corruption (33%)            3) Healthcare (31%)
4) Crime & Violence (29%)                                4) Poverty and social inequality (27%)
5) Healthcare (22%)                                           5) Terrorism (21%)

In relative terms, when compared with the rest of the world, Australians believe that unemployment is the number one concern, with two-in-five Australian participants citing unemployment as a top worry (40%). This is an increase of 1 percentage point compared with last month. This worry is also mirrored at a world level with 38% of all participants from all 25 countries citing unemployment as the issue they find most worrying in their country.

While Australia is still among the countries with the highest level of worry about the issue, Spain continues to be the country most worried about unemployment (mentioned by 70%).

The second biggest concern in Australia is crime & violence, up two percentage points from the previous month: 31% say this is the most worrying issue in Australia. Crime & violence was the top concern for residents living in Peru (71%), Mexico (67%), Argentina (63%), Sweden (35%), while also a top three concern for residents living in South Africa (60%), Germany (42%), Turkey (33%), and Brazil (43%).

Finally, in third place as the most worrying concern in Australia is healthcare, with almost a third of participants (31%) stating that this is the most worrying issue in Australia, nine percentage points higher than the global average (22%). Healthcare was also a top three concern for citizens in Hungary (63%), Poland (49%), Brazil (48%), Canada (39%), Great Britain (34%), and the USA (32%).

What worries the world

When looking at the issues across the 25 countries, the number one worry this month is again employment – (38% across all countries say this worries them) but this has been slowly declining since the study started in 2010, when it was 51%. Spain is the country most worried about unemployment (70%), with Italy close behind (65%.)

Poverty and Social Equality (34%), is the issue people most worry about next – Hungary (56%) and Russia (51%) are the countries most worried – it’s also the single issue which most worries Germans (48%), Belgians (39%), and the Japanese (38%).

Financial and political corruption is the third most common worry of the world (33%). South Korea is the most worried about this, and indeed about any issue out of any country in the study – a huge 73% are worried about this. The number of people in South Korea saying they worry about corruption has been growing since June but has spiked dramatically, with a 19 percentage point rise month on month, as the corruption scandal surrounding president Park Geun-hye reached fever pitch.

Gender optimism gap

Looking at the findings split by gender, the research finds men are more optimistic than women that things in their country are going well. The biggest confidence gaps between men and women are in the US, Israel and Russia. The only countries to buck the trend are Poland, Saudi Arabia and Canada. It also shows that men and women in each country tend to worry about the same things, but where concerns differ, it’s usually because women are more likely to worry about healthcare.

Commenting on the findings, Ipsos Public Affairs Deputy Managing Director, Dan Evans, said: “While optimism in Australia is slightly lower than this time last year, with 45% versus 48% of Australians agreeing that Australia is on the right track, it has been on the rise since April 2016 , at 45% versus 39%. Additionally, while it is important to note that 55% of Australians think Australia is on the wrong track, we are still the eighth most positive nation in this study, with 17 other countries across the globe more pessimistic about their countries’ direction.”

– ENDS –

Methodology: 18,110 interviews were conducted between October 21st and November 4th 2016 among adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. The survey was conducted in 25 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.