What is the world worrying about in 2018?

A new survey comes from Ipsos, and it’s most illuminating.  Ipsos polled nearly 20,000 people from around the world*, asking them what they’re most worried about.

It’s a fascinating idea, trying to get a finger on the world’s pulse.

Here is their slideshow.  Right after it I’ll summarize the results that most impressed me.

What are we most worried about?  The leading issues across the world, at least from these sample nations, are “Unemployment, poverty/social inequality, crime/violence and financial/political corruption.”

How worried are we?  “[M]ost people across the 28 countries think that their country is on the wrong track (56% on average).”

None of these individual fears reaches a majority of responses.  In fact, none cracks 34%, probably in part because of the competition:

Ipsos 2018 world worries

Compared to the rest of the world, the United States stands out, having a different set of fears, or at least a varied ranking of them:
Ipsos 2018 US worries

Health care is the number one anxiety for Americans, followed by immigration, crime/violence, and corruption.

Let’s zoom in on those top US issues. That way you can see how they’ve changed lately:
Ipsos 2018 US leading worries

Immigration has rapidly risen, no doubt thanks to Trump and the ICE stories.  Corruption is rising, too.  It’s interesting that crime and violence fears are down.  Has tv news failed at last?

The US isn’t alone in immigration fears.  Note our anxious compatriots, mostly in Europe:

Ipsos 2018 immigration

The world beyond the US is really much more concerned with economics.  Specifically, poverty and economic inequality.  (Kind of like this blog)

Ipsos 2018 poverty inequality

It’s fascinating to see Russians so concerned, followed closely by several eastern European nations How much of this is due to the Soviet-era** heritage, I wonder.

Remember that corruption of financial and political stripes was the world’s fourth largest concern:

Ipsos 2018_corruption

That’s a really non-regional concern, with leading nations from South America, southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Meanwhile, what about climate change?  You might be thinking of this if you’re participating in our online book club’s New York 2140 reading.  Well, not so much:

Ipsos 2018_climate change

China’s in the lead, intriguingly.

Now, back to this blog’s main topic, the future of education.  How worried is the human race about education?  That worry only hit 20% on the global average. A fascinating breakdown of nations follows:

Ipsos 2018_education

A few thoughts about what this might mean for the future of, well, the world.

The majority of the human race thinks we’re headed in the wrong direction.  Think about what that could mean for politics – for reform, revolt, populism, as well as for mechanisms of control.

The majority of our leading anxieties are economic: unemployment, poverty, inequality, and financial corruption.  This is being expressed while we continue to raise up more people from poverty than ever before in human history, suggesting the possibility of more revolutions of rising expectations.

Corruption is a global touchstone, and, unsurprisingly, appears in many political forms.  In the US we can think of Trump’s hilarious vow to “drain the swamp” while some Democrats are talking up corruption as a campaign theme.

For my American readers, our nation is weird, unsurprisingly.  Health care looms very large.  Note that this survey occurred during a Sanders-influence rise in desire for Medicare for all.

China also stands out from the rest of the world.  They are more concerned than anyone else with climate change.  They are also the most pleased about the future, with 91% seeing their nation on the right track.

Bear these anxieties in mind as you think about geopolitics as a whole, and your region in particular.  Consider how they shape education.

*28 countries:Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States.  The headlines emphasize the US, but the report is really more about those other 27 nations.

**I put Soviet-era there as a gesture towards Serbia, which was part of Yugoslavia, and not, therefore, part of the USSR’s Warsaw Pact.

(thanks to Tim Pendry for the pointer)

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One Response to What is the world worrying about in 2018?

  1. Joe Murphy says:

    I’m actually struck by the relative degree of similarity which appears at first blush. (This may be bad analysis, because it would be better to look at percentage of the population worrying about an item than the rank order. But I’m writing fast at lunch, so…) Out of a 17-item list, Americans rank 8 of them within 2 spots of the world average. So for roughly half the items, we’re in pretty good agreement.

    It’s striking that we rank unemployment at 10 spots lower than the rest of the world! That’s the biggest diversion in the lists. In part, I’m surprised because we hear so much about unemployment in our media; I’d have expected it to rank higher among Americans. But maybe that’s a sign that Americans have internalized the relative strength of the American labor market (or that they’re engaging in individualist thinking and victim-blaming against the unemployed). See also Poverty, where Americans are 4 spots less worried than the world.

    I find it interesting that Americans are worried about “extremism” at 5 spots higher than the rest of the world. I wish there were more context about how respondents were interpreting that… domestic extremism? International? Is it kind of a proxy for “terrorism”, or a separate category?

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