What worries the world? Here’s what one survey says

What are your top three worries?

Do they serve as anchors and impede your progress? Or do you acknowledge that the world’s an uncertain place, you plan accordingly and live your life? Football coach George Allen, Sr. once said: “Forget the past – the future will give you plenty to worry about.” This article takes a look at a recent global survey of the world’s worry list and shares some insights that you can discuss with your family and team of advisors to help you stay on track and manage whatever crisis du jour next develops.

What worries the world is the name of a monthly survey conducted by a leading global market research and advisory French firm called Ipsos.  One question asked is “Which 3 of the following topics do you find most worrying in your country?”  Here are the results from the survey (250,309 adults in 29 countries interviewed January – December 2017).

Worry          % Mentioning      in 2017 Top Worries by Country
Unemployment/jobs 36% Italy & Spain 65%, France 46%, Saudi 45%, S. Korea 32%
Corruption & financial/political scandals 34% S Africa 67%, Brazil 57%, India 47%
Poverty/social inequality 33% Russia 54%, Germany 45%, Japan 38%
Crime and violence 29% Peru 65%, Mexico 59%, Argentina 51%, Sweden 46%
Healthcare 23% Hungary 65%, Poland 49%, UK 41%, US & Canada 37%
Terrorism 20% Turkey 62%, Israel 45%, Belgium 34%
Education 19%
Taxes 17%
Moral Decline 15%
Immigration Control 13%
Inflation 10%
Rise of extremism 10%
Maintaining Social Programs 9%
Climate Change 9%
Childhood Obesity 3%
Access to Credit 2%

It illustrates what people worry about, and country-specific issues. Some of these worries are big-picture issues for which we have little control. Other worries, however, are very relevant and actionable so you can better put things in your favor. These “worries” have personal financial planning implications.

  1. Safety and security are top concerns whether it is my job (income interruptus), personal safety, or integrity of the system. How can I increase my marketability (earnings potential)? What risk management tools should I use to protect me and my family?
  2. What is important to you about some of these single word “worries?” Healthcare can mean the process and issues of aging, the access to or cost of care, or maintaining good health. Is education about investing in one’s future, how to fund for it, or paying off the debt from getting your diploma? And what steps can you take to get a bigger income tax refund, minimize the tax from selling your business or a property you’ve had for a long time, or reducing the cost of gifting your wealth or transferring it upon death?
  3. We live in a changing and uncertain world. There’s a trade-off between risk and return. How much return do you need and can it be earned with a comfortable level of risk? Should you take advantage of opportunities overseas by investing globally? What areas or regions represent danger or greater volatility? Diversification is the blessing of never getting killed in exchange for never making a killing.

A wise person once told me if you wait for all uncertainty to disappear, then so does the opportunity. And often, the initial question or “worry” isn’t the real issue – you’ve got to dig, ask and explore. Then you get a clearer picture, the solution might be a bit more involved, however, it’s best for you.

Good luck.

About Brian Loy

Brian Loy writes insightful and inspiring articles about the ever-changing world of personal finance and the global trends that affect the risk and return on investments and shape the financial- and retirement-planning process.
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