Countries heading direction 2020

What Worries the World Most in January 2020?

Worries and anxieties are part of life but what are the greatest concerns worldwide in January 2020? We start the year with 61% globally saying that things in their country are heading in the wrong direction, up four points on 12 months ago.

Ipsos’ latest What Worries the World survey results find that, in January 2020, the majority of people across the participating nations (61% on average), feel their country is on the wrong track, with Italy (83%), South Africa (79%), France (79%) and Spain (78%) expressing the highest levels of anxiety.

Poverty & social inequality is the top global concern (34%), with Unemployment next (31%), ahead of Crime & violence and Financial/political corruption (both 30%).

Poverty/Social Inequality (34%). Russia (with 60%) is the nation which is most worried about this issue, followed by Chile (55%) and Hungary on 52%. Once more, the US (where it is only mentioned by 22%) is the single least concerned nation on this issue.

Unemployment (31%). The highest levels of concern are seen in South Africa (62%) and Italy (58%) closely followed by South Korea (57%). Concerns around unemployment least evident in the Netherlands (7%), Germany (9%) and Poland (11%).

Crime and Violence (30%). The greatest levels of worry are once again reported in Mexico (66%) with Peru and South Africa (63%) following closely behind.

Financial/Political Corruption (30%). South Africa (scoring 58%) has the highest number of respondents concerned about this issue, followed by Russia (57%) and Malaysia (53%).

what worries the world january 2020 poverty

With 39% of people globally saying their country is on the right track, this marks a gloomier start to the year than 2019; in January last year, the split was 43% right track vs. 57% wrong track.

In line with recent months, Chinese citizens are most assured about their nation’s direction, with 90% believing their country is heading in the right direction. Saudi Arabia (78%) remains in second place with India (58%) in third place, ahead of Brazil (46%).

Two countries show a marked improvement in national optimism this month:

  • In Argentina, the proportion saying the country is on the right track is up 16 points on last month), and now stands at 39%.
  • Great Britain, which saw Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party win a large majority at the 12th December general election, shows a 15-point increase, with 40% now positive about the country’s direction of travel.

Although the mood remains positive, India’s 58% positive score marks an 11-point fall on the previous month. Meanwhile, the survey also records a 9-point fall in optimism in Malaysia (40%).

At the other end of the spectrum, we find a distinct lack of optimism in some countries:

  • Just 17% of Italian citizens think their country is going in the right direction.
  • Scores are also low in South Africa and France (both 21%) and Spain (22%).

The last 12 months

Since January 2019, we have seen Brazil and the US enter the top 5 most optimistic countries along with China, Saudi Arabia and India who rank 1-3 respectively in today’s results as well as last year.

Meanwhile, Italy has jumped several places to become the most pessimistic in terms of the country’s direction of travel, and Chile has also joined the ranks of the 5 most pessimistic countries. Great Britain belonged to the group of most pessimistic countries for much of 2019, but this month’s improved score means it now occupies a mid-table position.

The five most optimistic and pessimistic countries, ranked by our “right track/wrong track” indicator are: 

 Country% saying right directionChange since January 2019 (% point)
2Saudi Arabia78-4
Representative sample of adults aged 16-64 in 28 participating countries. c. 19,000 per month. January 2020 results.

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