New global Ipsos poll finds unemployment remains the top issue globally for consumers

New global Ipsos poll finds unemployment remains the top issue globally for consumers – this is mirrored in Australia,
with unemployment sitting alongside crime and violence as the biggest worries

  • The majority of Australians (57%) think things in the country are on the wrong track
  • Unemployment, crime and violence and healthcare remain the top concerns for Australians
  • Two in five across the 25 countries in the study continue to worry about unemployment

A new global Ipsos research study finds that a majority of Australians continue to say that things in Australia are on the wrong track.

“What Worries the World” is a monthly online survey of adults aged under the age of 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 the majority of people across 25 countries think that their country is on the wrong track (62% on average), remaining unchanged from last month. Meanwhile, the three biggest worries for global citizens are unemployment, financial and political corruption, and poverty and inequality.

Right track or wrong direction?

Out of the 25 countries, Australia continues to sit in the top 9 most optimistic countries with more than two in five (43%)Australian participants stating that they believe their country is on the right track. The study shows that China leads as the single most optimistic country with 91% thinking their country is on the right track, followed by India (75%), Saudi Arabia (73%) and Russia (64%). Most countries, though, have much higher levels of discontent, notably Mexico, Italy, South Korea, South Africa, France, and Brazil, all of which have more than eight in ten saying their country is going in the wrong direction.

Across the world, men tend to be more optimistic than women (41% of men say their country is on the right track, against 35% of women), as are those on high incomes (45% right track, vs 33% of those on low incomes) and those with higher levels of education(41% right track, vs 33% those on lower levels of education).

Worries of the world
When looking at the issues that drive sentiment in the 25 countries, unemployment is once again the single biggest worry – mentioned by 38% of people globally. Despite this, long term trends show that unemployment has been decreasing since 2012 when half the respondents across all countries said this worried them. Spain continues to be the country most worried about unemployment (68%), closely followed by Italy (65%) and South Korea (62%).

Financial and political corruption remains the second most common worry of the world at 34%. South Koreans continue to be the most worried in the world about this issue, with 74% saying it is a concern. Following the impeachment of president Park Geun-hye in December last year, the proportion who felt this was a concern dropped slightly. However, since January it has slowly been rising to the current level. Corruption is also a big worry in South Africa (57%), Hungary (55%) and Mexico (55%).

Poverty and social equality (33%) is the issue people across the world worry about next. Hungary has the highest level of concern at 62%. Russia and Israel are in joint second place with 51% of their citizens worried about it.

Crime and violence is a key worry for 29% of people on average, with Peru (67%), South Africa (61%) and Argentina (54%), Brazil (52%) and Mexico (50%) in the top five. In Peru and Argentina, crime and violence is their primary worry.

Concern about terrorism is highest in countries with recent or ongoing exposure to incidents. Turkey remains the country most worried about terrorism in the world – at a huge 73%, followed by Israel (48%), France (42%) and Germany (39%). Terrorism has slipped to fourth place as the most worrying issue for Britons (26%).

China is more worried about climate change (20%) and threats against the environment (43%) than all the other countries.

What do we worry about?

Top five global issues                                         Top five Australia issues
1) Unemployment (38%)                                         1) Unemployment (35%)
2) Financial/Political Corruption (34%)                    2) Crime and Violence (35%)
3) Poverty/Social Inequality (33%)                          3) Healthcare (30%)
4) Crime & Violence (29%)                                      4) Poverty and Social Inequality (23%)
5) Healthcare (23%)                                               5) Terrorism (21%)

When compared with the rest of the world, Australians continue to believe that unemployment is a top concern with one in three Australian participants citing this issue as a top worry (35%), though this is a decrease of three percentage points since January 2017. However, crime and violence has risen to sit alongside unemployment as the other biggest worry facing Australia (35%), having increased by five percentage points since January 2017.

It is important to note however, that when compared with countries worried about the same issues, it can be seen that Australians’ concern acuity regarding unemployment is low relative to the likes of Spain (68%), Italy (65%), Saudi Arabia (49%) and France (47%) for example. Similarly, while crime and violence is the equal top concern cited by Australians, the degree to which we are concerned is dwarfed by those who live in Peru (67%), South Africa (61%), Argentina (54%), and Sweden (49%).

Commenting on the findings, Ipsos Public Affairs Deputy Managing Director, Daniel Evans, said:
“This study reminds us that discontent is high in many important countries around the world – notably France and Italy in Europe, Brazil and Mexico in Latin America, South Korea and South Africa. All those countries are also among the most pessimistic about their economy, but the issue they are most concerned about varies – corruption in Mexico, Brazil and South Korea, unemployment in France and Italy, and crime in South Africa. As for Australia, the rise in concern about crime and violence mirrors other Ipsos Public Affairs research that shows that since late last year, we have become increasingly worried about violent, random and seemingly indiscriminate crimes against citizens in our states’ local areas.”

* Methodology: 18,029 interviews were conducted between January 20th and February 3rd 2017 among
adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, Israel and the US 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 is weighted
to match the profile of the population.