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What is the world’s most pressing problem?

A global poll has found the biggest worry for wealth nations is ‘economic pains’.

A Greek Cypriot soldier walks at the old town of the capital Nicosia, on Friday, March 29, 2013. Banks in Cyprus are open for normal business for the second day, but with strict restrictions on how much money their clients can access, after being shut for nearly two weeks.
A Greek Cypriot soldier walks at the old town of the capital Nicosia, on Friday, March 29, 2013. Banks in Cyprus are open for normal business for the second day, but with strict restrictions on how much money their clients can access, after being shut for nearly two weeks.
Image: Petros Giannakouris/AP/Press Association Images

A GIANT SURVEY examining the worries and concerns of 50,000 men and women across 56 countries has tried to uncover the world’s most important problem of 2013.

But sharp differences in wealthy and poor nations led to a large split in perceptions in the inaugural WIN-Gallup International Index of the World’s Most Pressing Problem.

Poor and emerging states worry most about ‘social disorder’, while the principal concern of developed nations is ‘economic pains’.

Brazil, Malaysia, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Russia, Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia all see ‘social disorder’ as the most pressing problem of current times. Gallup International, the company behind the survey, said it was “notable” that seven of these top 10 are Muslim-majority countries.

Ireland is in the top 10 nations which see ‘economic worries’ as more important than ‘social disorder’. It is joined by fellow eurozone problem economies – Spain, Portugal and Italy. People in the US, France, Poland, Bosnia, Romania and the Czech Republic were also in the same grouping.

The Irish population is more than twice as likely to consider ‘economic worries’ as the most pressing problem over ‘social disorder’.

‘Economic worries’ include financial problems, the poverty gap between rich and poor and unemployment. ‘Social disorder’ includes corruption, war, crime, drugs, terrorism, religious fundamentalism and refugee problems.

According to the President of WIN-Gallup International, the world is in the middle of changing fortunes.

“Poor nations of yesterday are catching up while the wealthy are stagnating or declining,” said Jean-Marc Leger. “Our poll shows that economic growth among poor and emerging nations brings fears about ‘social disorder’.

“On the other hand, as wealthy nations lose some of their economic comfort they are fearful about declining prosperity.”

A total of 57,228 people were interviewed for the survey in a mix of face-to-face, telephone and online questions. The fieldwork was carried out between September and December 2012. The Irish segment was conducted by RED C Research.

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