World's Most Important Problem

  • Problem, 2013

Gallup International Association opinion poll in 65 countries across the globe

October – December 2013

Corruption Wins

Corruption was the common theme for the 2013 WIN/Gallup International Annual survey, with 21% of respondents globally selecting it as the world’s most important problem. Asia had the highest share of responses to the corruption category (26%) of any region. Within the Asia region, the Philippines (50%) and Indonesia (40%) recorded significantly higher response rates to this question than any other country worldwide in the survey, whereas Australia (4%) and Japan (2%) saw corruption as a minor problem.

The Americas (19%) and Africa (18%) also had high response rates for corruption whereas results from Western Europe were much lower – corruption gained only 8% of the share of responses across the region. Indeed, countries in Western Europe generally recorded only a single digit share, as in the UK (8%), Germany (6%) and France (4%).

Economic problems were identified as the world’s second most important problem. Africa (21%) ranked this as the number one issue, with Kenya (27%) coming out well above the regional average. Africa was followed by the Americas (16%), while the global average was 14%. The UK (17%) deemed the category as the most important problem, and amongst the other Western European countries to focus on it were Netherlands (12%), Germany (10%), Spain (10%) and Austria (9%). 26% of US respondents selected economic problems, making it the number one issue there. Malaysia (47%) and Greece (43%) were the countries which recorded the highest responses in the economic problems category globally.

It Gets Personal

Poverty, more specifically the gap between rich and poor, is deemed the third biggest problem globally with 12%. It was the number one concern from survey participants in Western European (24%). Some countries in this region displayed extremely high responses in this category, including Germany (34%), Austria (32%), Spain (27%) and France (25%), all of which greatly exceeded the global average of 12%. The UK, at 16%, was lower than some of its European peers but still ranked poverty as the second most important issue facing the world. Indeed, the contrast with some non-European countries is stark: Malaysia (1%), Thailand (3%) and Indonesia (5%) were some of the countries that had single digit responses.

Further to the theme of financial hardship, unemployment ranked fourth globally (10%) in the list of important problems. The share of responses in Europe (14%) was surpassed only by Africa (19%). Results in the Americas region paint a split picture, with the US (11%) and Brazil (8%) recognising unemployment as a problem whereas Argentina (2%) attached far less importance to it. The results from countries in the Americas contrast sharply to those from other regions - Italy sees unemployment as the biggest problem at 34% as do Bosnia (32%) and South Africa (30%).


The End of Year Survey is an annual tradition initiated by and designed under the chairmanship of Dr. George Gallup in 1977. It is conducted every year since then. This year it was carried out by the Gallup International Association in 69 countries around the world.

A total of 66,806 persons were interviewed globally representing 77% of the global population.  In each of the 65 countries a national probability sample of around 1,000 men and women was interviewed either face to face (34 countries), via telephone (10 countries); or online (21 countries). The field work was conducted between October 1st and December 9th 2013. In general, the margin of error for survey of this kind is at the 95% confidence level for 2780 is +/- 1.86%. While for a sample size of 300 it is +/- 5.66%

The global average has been computed according to the share of the covered adult population of the surveyed countries.