Health, jobs and environment rank as top personal worries, WEF survey finds

Health, jobs and environment rank as top personal worries, WEF survey finds

Three out of five adults across the world perceive deteriorating health, loss of income or employment and more frequent weather-related natural disasters as the biggest threats in the year ahead, according to a new Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum.

More people think the pace of climate change, employment opportunities, general health conditions, inequality and inter-country relations will worsen this year than those who expect they will improve, according to a survey of 23,004 adults from 28 countries conducted online between December 23, 2020 and January 8, 2021.

Some 62 per cent of those surveyed identified “deteriorating health (mental or physical)” as a real threat to themselves and their families over the next 12 months, while 61 per cent expressed concern about “loss of income or employment”. “More frequent occurrence of weather-related natural disasters”, was singled out by about 60 per cent of the people polled.

Yet respondents were more upbeat about the ability of technology and digital tools to improve conditions in the year ahead. Respondents in Saudi Arabia were most upbeat about the prospects for technology to bring positive change, followed by those in Peru and India.

Significantly larger proportions of people expect opportunities for training and education to improve in 2021 than those who think they will get worse. Respondents in Saudi Arabia were once more the most optimistic, followed by those in Peru, Mexico and China. The prospect of having more difficulty accessing training/education is seen as a real threat in Turkey (75 per cent), the survey revealed.

“In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to reset priorities and the urgency to reform systems have been growing stronger around the world," Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, said. "Rebuilding trust and increasing global cooperation are crucial to fostering innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery.”

The countries most concerned about a loss of income or employment were Chile, Peru and Turkey, whereas those who were least concerned were those based in the Netherlands (32 per cent), Sweden (38 per cent) and China (39 per cent), the survey found.

People in Turkey (76 per cent) were most fearful about the effect that potential conflicts and trade disputes between their country and other nations could have. The country also ranked highly in terms of the proportion of respondents who expect social prejudice or inequality to worsen over the next 12 months.