Inequality has replaced COVID-19 as the world’s top worry, survey finds

Posted on : 2021-11-15 17:08 KST Modified on : 2021-11-15 17:08 KST
South Koreans were found to be most concerned about unemployment
This undated photo shows the juxtaposition of modern apartments and a shantytown in Mumbai, India. (provided by Pixabay)
This undated photo shows the juxtaposition of modern apartments and a shantytown in Mumbai, India. (provided by Pixabay)

Poverty and inequality both surpassed COVID-19 as the top concern for people around the world. After 18 months, COVID-19 fell to third place on the list of concerns. Meanwhile, climate change — which has emerged as this century’s biggest issue — ranked 10th.

The “What Worries the World?” survey asks people in 28 countries on a monthly basis what issues concern them the most. The survey is conducted by Ipsos, a firm specializing in global market research and public opinion. According to the survey’s October 2021 findings, 33% of respondents thought poverty and social inequality were the biggest concerns in their country. This marks a 2-point increase from the previous month.

Unemployment concerns were ranked next at 30%, with COVID-19 and financial and political corruption tied for third place. October’s survey consisted of 18 issues, of which respondents were asked to choose three.

(courtesy of Ipsos)
(courtesy of Ipsos)

According to the recently released findings, this was the first time in 18 months that COVID-19 fell from being the top concern. Compared to the previous month, the percentage of people saying COVID-19 was their top concern dropped by 7 points while the issues of poverty and inequality regained the number one spot they had held before the start of the pandemic.

The only respondents whose concern about COVID-19 had seen a significant increase were Russians.

Nationals from Malaysia, Australia, England and the US were the only ones who identified COVID-19 as their top concern. This is a big drop from September 2020, when 12 countries answered this way, and an even bigger decrease from last April, when 24 countries saw COVID-19 as their main concern.

Hungary and Russia were the top countries that chose poverty and inequality as their main concerns, each with 55% of respondents answering this way. A total of 19 countries — more than half of the total surveyed — showed increased concern about deepening inequality.

Climate change, on the other hand, seems to be less of a concern. Globally, it ranked below crime and violence, medical care, education, taxes and inflation. Only 15% of respondents around the world chose climate change as their biggest concern.

The country most concerned with unemployment was South Africa, with 67% of respondents pointing to job concerns as their biggest worry. More than half of respondents from Spain, Italy and Colombia also responded in the same way.

(courtesy of Ipsos)
(courtesy of Ipsos)

For Koreans, the biggest concern was unemployment

Of the South Koreans surveyed, 48% pointed to unemployment as their biggest concern, making it the top answer. Next in line were COVID-19 (45%), financial and political corruption (42%), poverty and inequality (27%) and taxes (20%).

For Japanese respondents, the top three concerns were COVID-19 (50%), inequality (37%) and unemployment (29%).

Among the 28 countries surveyed, 64% said their country was heading in the wrong direction. This response is similar to that of the previous month. According to Ipsos, “This shows falling levels of concern about Coronavirus have not necessarily impacted the positivity of the public’s outlook.”

Among the respondents who see their country going in the wrong direction, Colombian nationals were the most concerned about this point (90%), followed by Peru (83%), Argentina (82%) and Brazil (80%).

South Korea ranks similar to the global average, at 61%.

Over 20,000 adults around the world participated in this latest survey.

By Kwak No-pil, senior staff writer

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