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Ipsos MORI poll reveals divergent opinions on world's greatest challenges


An international poll commissioned by King’s indicates that before nations can tackle several global challenges they first must understand and bridge the gap between their divergent opinions.

The poll, conducted in September by Ipsos MORI, asked a total of 7,055 adults, ages 16 to 64, in eight countries two questions online – to identify ‘the two or three greatest challenges’ that face a) the world, and b) their own country.

Responses varied greatly, with more people in developing nations generally concerned about pollution and global warming and climate change, as global challenges. Residents of western nations were more likely to cite the economy.

Climate change (46%) and war and terrorism (46%) were identified as the top two global challenges. The economy (44%) and poverty (41%) topped the list as the issues of greatest challenges for the eight countries included in the survey.

World questions|King’s answers will touch nearly every topic identified as a leading global issue, and the campaign could foster efforts to facilitate stronger cooperation between nations. For example, the College’s China, Brazil and India Institutes, which are receiving support through the campaign, aim to foster greater international understanding.

Among the many other areas of research and study funded through the campaign, the College is raising money to support the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, which focuses on security and counter-terrorism issues.

Among the noteworthy findings:

The economy

  • Americans were the only group with more than half (56%) saying the economy was a top global challenge.
  •  Three-quarters (74%) of British adults said they believe the economy to be one of the greatest challenges facing their own country – far ahead of all of the other challenges highlighted: over-population (44%); war and terrorism (27%); poverty (27%); and cancer (23%).

Global warming and climate change

  • China (67%), Brazil (56%), South Africa (54%) and India (53%) were the countries where most people said they believe global warming and climate change to be one of the two or three greatest global challenges.
  • The two countries where global warming and climate change were least likely to be mentioned as a great challenge facing the world were Britain (33%) and the USA (22%).

Discrimination against women
Only 3% of the British said they consider discrimination against women as being one of the greatest challenges facing the world – along with those in South Africa, Brazil, Australia and the USA (all at 3%) and China (at 2%). Those in Saudi Arabia (7%) are twice as likely to cite this as one of the greatest challenges facing the world.

War and Terrorism

Those in the USA (46%), India (40%) and Saudi Arabia (35%) were most likely to cite war and terrorism as one of the two or three greatest challenges facing their own country.


Asked about the most pressing challenges in their own country, poverty topped the list for people in South Africa (70%), Brazil (61%), Saudi Arabia (46%) and India (45%).


More than four in ten people in China (46%), Great Britain (44%) and India (42%) said over-population was the greatest challenge in their country.


China (35%), Australia (31%) and Britain (20%) had the highest percentage of adults who said ageing is one of the greatest challenges facing their own country.


Australians and British were the people most likely to cite cancer as one of the greatest challenges facing their own country, with around one in four believing this to be the case (26% and 23%), higher than in any of the other six countries.

 Mental health

More than one-third of Australians (35%) said mental health is one of the greatest challenges facing their country.

More information regarding the poll is available on the Ipsos MORI website.

Technical note:

Ipsos MORI interviewed 7,055 adults aged 16 – 64 across eight countries – Australia (1,001), Brazil (1,018), China (1,018), Great Britain (1,005), India (1,005), Saudi Arabia (504), South Africa (504) and the USA (1,000), Interviews were conducted online between 7th – 21st September 2010. Quota controls were set upon the interviews achieved and the resultant survey data weighted to the known population profile of this audience (16 – 64 years of age).

See the poll results PowerPoint as presented by Sir Robert Worcester

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