Compiled by Luke Daniel
First published on Business Insider

South Africa ranks as one of the most worried nations in the world, according to a new international survey.

And unlike many other countries, Covid-19 is not the top concern locally, with citizens more concerned about corruption and unemployment than they are about the pandemic. Some 78% of South Africans believe that the country is “on the wrong track”, compared to the international average of 62%.

South Africa’s grim outlook is ranked the second to worst out of a total 27 countries recently surveyed by global researchers, Ipsos. Only respondents in Peru were more pessimistic.

The latest What Worries the World survey assesses global fears and anxieties. Over 22 000 participants responded to the survey conducted at the end of 2020.

Ipsos’ representative sampling process involves including respondents from different income brackets, age groups, genders and races to produce an accurate snapshot of a country’s demographics.  

The survey deals extensively with the Covid-19 pandemic which wrought havoc in 2020 and still presents a major sense of uncertainty in the new year. This is especially true for developing nations, like South Africa, which have yet to acquire vaccines.

Globally, Covid-19 remains the primary concern, with half of all respondents indicating that the virus and associated human costs remain their countries’ biggest worry.  Unemployment, poverty, corruption, and healthcare complete the list of the top five global concerns.

Corruption South Africa Covid-19
Graph: Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey 2021

South Africa, in addition to ranking as the second-most pessimistic nation in the world, also bucks the global trends in priority of concerns.

A total of 46% of South African respondents listed Covid-19 as their main worry, less than the global average.

Instead, South Africans are far more worried about the scourge of corruption. With 56% of respondents listing corruption as their main concern, South Africans’ anxiety around malfeasance is matched only by those in Hungary. On a global scale, only 27% of respondents listed corruption as their primary worry.

Corruption South Africa Covid-19
Graph: Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey 2021

European citizens, particularly those in Sweden, Germany, France, and the UK, are unperturbed by the prospect of political corruption in their countries – but are concerned about Covid-19 instead.

South Africa’s top concern is unemployment. A total of 62% of respondents listed job losses as their main worry in 2021. At the top of the global rankings, only Italian respondents matched South Africa’s concerns around unemployment. Of all those surveyed, the global average rate of concern around job losses rests at 37%. Like worries around corruption, in South Africa, this rate is almost double the global average. 

Corruption South Africa Covid-19
Graph: Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey 2021

South Africa’s lockdown has had a devastating impact on the country’s already-beleaguered economy. The pandemic and prolonged lockdown measures resulted in job losses and the unemployment rate rising to above 30%.

In addition, the pandemic also brought even more corruption, with high-ranking government officials implicated in collusion and bribery in the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

For more details, download and peruse the survey.