What worries the world in 2022?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kayleigh Bateman, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • The Omicron variant has pushed COVID-19 back to the top of the world’s worry list, latest Ipsos data reveals.
  • 63% of the 28 countries surveyed claim their country is heading in the wrong direction.
  • But Chile, the Netherlands, Mexico, Hungary and Turkey all registered some new year optimism.

COVID-19 is currently top of the list of the world’s worries, according to the latest research from Ipsos, with 35% saying it is one of the biggest social and political issues facing their country today.

Surveying respondents across 28 countries, the Ipsos data analyzes the worries of the world between 23 December 2021 and 7 January 2022.

After COVID-19, the top five remaining social and political issues worrying the public in January 2022 are as follows: poverty and social inequality (31%), unemployment (28%), financial and political corruption (27%) and crime and violence (26%).

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications – a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

Omicron pushed COVID back to the top

The rise of the Omicron variant has pushed COVID-19 back up to pole position after it dropped to third on the Ipsos list in November. Over a third (35%) say this is their biggest worry; however, this number is still lower than the 50% who shared the same opinion in January 2021.

The countries that are currently most worried about COVID-19 are South Korea (58%), Australia (51%), Malaysia (50%) and Canada (48%). Fifth position is jointly shared by Germany, Great Britain, Japan and Saudi Arabia (46%).

A chart showing top concerns in the world over the last year.
Concern over COVID-19 has now risen for the second month running. Image: Ipsos Global Advisor

Changing concerns

Russia (53%) is the most concerned about poverty and social inequality, the second highest worry, according to the survey. However, the largest increase in concern is in the Netherlands (plus eight points), while poverty and inequality is the number one worry in Brazil (43%).

Climate change currently ranks 9th out of the 18 issues in the Ipsos survey, with 15% of the 28 countries surveyed saying it is one of the most important challenges facing their country right now.

It reached its highest level of concern (17%) in February 2020, and has been at 15% or 16% for the past six months.

The countries currently most concerned about climate change are Australia (32%), Canada (30%), Germany (28%), Great Britain (28%) and the US (24%).

An infographic monitoring opinions about how well people think their country is doing.
63% on average say things in their country are moving in the wrong direction. Image: Ipsos Global Advisor

Heading in the right direction?

A staggering 63% of people in the 28 countries surveyed by Ipsos claim their country is on the wrong track. However, this has moved two points since last month in a more positive direction.

For the second month in a row, Peru has the largest proportion (84%) of people who believe their country is heading down the wrong path.

But perhaps channelling some new year optimism, many countries registered a more positive outlook, such as Chile (+15) and the Netherlands (+12), while Mexico, Hungary and Turkey were all up by six points.

Future risks

The general lack of faith in the future has echoes in the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, where 89% of respondents believed the short-term outlook for the world would be “volatile, fractured or increasingly catastrophic”.

The report also noted that “social cohesion erosion”, “livelihood crises” and “mental health deterioration” are three of the top five threats to the world in the next two years.

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