With so much polarization on key issues, it’s tough to get a pulse on where the world is heading.
But if you ditch the complexity and nuance surrounding current events, we can get a good gauge by asking a simple and direct question to people: are things going in the right direction?
Today’s data comes from the What Worries the World Report by Ipsos Public Affairs. It sums up responses from 18,110 people in 25 different countries on whether things are going in the “right direction” or “wrong direction” in their particular country.
The Right or Wrong Direction
First of all, here is the official question posed by Ipsos – and the results sorted by country:
Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction, or are they off on the wrong track?
On a global basis, 37% of people think their countries are heading in the “right direction”, though that varies for each individual country.
Respondents from China and Saudi Arabia are the most enthusiastic, with 90% and 80% of people respectively answering that things are on the right track. That said, it would be interesting to look at Ipsos’ methodology here to see how they are ensuring valid responses from people under the rule of more autocratic regimes.
The United States and Canada were in the middle of the pack. Only 35% Americans see things as being on the right track, while 54% of Canadians feel the same way.
Generally speaking, Europeans, Mexicans, Brazilians, and South Koreans are the most pessimistic about future prospects.
Hot Button Issues
What issues have got people feeling this way?
Respondents were asked to select their top three worries from a set of 17 options:
The two biggest global worries are both economic in nature: “Unemployment” and “Poverty & Social Inequality” were selected by 38% and 34% of people respectively.
Issues such as “Terrorism”, “Rise of Extremism” or “Immigration Control” are surprisingly in the middle of the pack, though it is worth keeping in mind that the above data is at a global level. These issues would likely rank higher in Western countries than in places like China, Russia, or India.
Trending Up or Down
With only 37% of global respondents seeing their country being “on track”, does that rank higher or lower than in previous surveys?
Interestingly, it is basically par for the course.
Since 2010, the results have basically trended sideways, with the percentage of people for “on track” never cracking 40% on a global level.