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Thirty-four per cent of people worldwide worry about serious harm from severe weather

The World Worry Index shows the countries that worry the most about a range of everyday risks, and what they worry about.  Everyday risks measured by the poll include: severe weather, violent crime, food you eat, electrical powerlines, mental health issues, water you drink and household appliances.

Across the world, the top three countries where people worry most are all in Africa – Mozambique, Guinea, and Malawi – with all three countries worrying most about severe weather.

The countries who worry least are Sweden, Singapore and Uzbekistan. The top worry is different in each country: in Sweden people are most worried about violent crime, in Singapore it is unsafe food and in Uzbekistan, severe weather.

Looking at the results globally, 34 per cent of people were very worried about experiencing serious harm from severe weather, and 32 per cent from violent crime. Twenty-one per cent were concerned about harm from the food they eat, and 18 per cent about harm from water they drink. Twenty per cent were worried about being harmed by powerlines.

“The insight from the World Risk Poll shines a light for the first time on the links between happiness and feeling safe and free from the worries that risks create.”

Jeffrey Sachs
Sustainable Development Solutions Network, publishers of The World Happiness Report

The risk perception gap

Comparing the Worry Index to the Experience of Harm Index shows that there can be considerable differences between the way people feel about risks and the actual harms they experience.

Across the world the scores on the Worry Index are higher than the scores on the Experience of Harm Index. In some cases, this risk perception gap is greater than others and these countries can be considered as ‘over-worriers’. They include Mongolia, Myanmar, Cyprus, Chile, and South Korea.

Conversely some countries show only a small gap between worry and experience: Sweden has a gap of 6 between the Worry Index score at 18.75 and an Experience of Harm score of 13.

Knowing what these gaps are and how they differ between countries and regions is an important part of devising effective communication about risks. It also empowers individuals and communities to focus attention on actions most likely to reduce harm.

typhoon damage

Countries most worried about everyday risks

The Worry Index, which summarises an individual’s level of worry across seven everyday hazards, shown by country. (Country’s score out of 100)

The risk perception gap by region

infographic 08 world worry by region world risk poll A
infographic 08 world worry by region world risk poll B

Very worried            Have experienced       ⬤  Gap: ‘Very worried’ minus ‘Experienced’

The Worry and Experience Index shown by region. The indices measure worry and experience across seven everyday hazards. (Region index scores out of 100)