9 December 2010

Corruption Is World’s Most Talked About Problem

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Corruption is the world’s most frequently discussed global problem, according to a new BBC poll surveying more than 13,000 people across 26 countries.

The findings show that more than one in five (21%) of those polled said they had discussed corruption and greed with friends and family over the past month, making it the most talked about global problem, ahead of climate change (20%), extreme poverty and hunger (18%), unemployment (16%), and the rising cost of food and energy (15%).

Issued on UN International Anti-Corruption Day, the BBC World Speaks poll, conducted by GlobeScan on behalf of BBC World Service, showed corruption was particularly likely to have been discussed by developing-world citizens, including respondents in Kenya (63%), Nigeria (49%), Indonesia (45%), and India (30%). But significant numbers in industrialised countries like Italy (14%), Spain (13%), and Canada (11%) had also discussed it.

In a separate question, respondents were also asked to rate the seriousness of 14 global problems. As well as being the most talked about issue, corruption was also rated as the second most serious problem, with 68 per cent on average rating it as very serious. Only extreme poverty was rated as more serious (69%). Poverty thus emerged as the most serious perceived global problem for the second year in succession.

Majorities in all but four of the countries polled rated corruption as a very serious problem, with Brazilians (96%), Egyptians (91%), Colombians (88%), Filipinos (87%) and Kenyans (86%) most likely to rate it as very serious, but it was also rated among the most serious issues in China (73%), the USA (68%), Russia (67%) and India (66%). In Europe, Italians were the most concerned about corruption (72%).

After corruption, environmental pollution (64% very serious), terrorism (61%), human-rights abuses, and the rising cost of food and energy (both 59%) were rated as the next most serious issues.

The results are drawn from a survey of 13,353 adult citizens across 26 countries and the poll was commissioned by the BBC to understand which global issues they consider most serious. It was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between June and September 2010. Results within countries are considered accurate within +/- 3.0 to 4.9 per cent 19 times out of 20.

GlobeScan Research Director Sam Mountford said: “It’s clear from this poll that people around the world view corruption as a major issue in their lives. It’s the number one most talked about global problem, and rated the second most serious.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that people are venting their frustration about a problem that often stops governments getting to grips with the raft of other serious challenges that they are now seen to be facing.”

Participating Countries

In Brazil, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Turkey urban samples were used.

Further Findings

Climate Change Concern Drops

Climate change was rated as only the eighth most serious issue, with 56 per cent considering it a very serious global problem. The findings show that concern about climate change has diminished significantly in almost all of the world’s major industrialised nations since the perceived failure of the Copenhagen summit at the end of 2009—but that more people than before in key emerging economies like China, Brazil, India, and Russia now see climate change as a very serious global problem.

Compared to 2009, the proportions seeing climate change as very serious fell in countries including the UK (down 12 points), the USA (down 7 points), France (down 11 points), Canada (down 11 points), Germany (down 6 points), Spain (down 18 points), and Japan (down 12 points). However, the proportions seeing it as very serious climbed in developing nations including Brazil (up 7 points), China (up 9 points), Russia (up 10 points), and India (up 19 points).

China vs US

In China, 27 per cent said they had talked about climate change over the previous month, twice as many as the next most discussed issues (other environmental problems at 14%, corruption and the state of the global economy, both at 13%). In contrast, Americans were much more likely to have talked about the state of the global economy (33%), with 15 per cent saying they had discussed climate change with their friends and family over the previous month, 15 per cent mentioning terrorism, and another 15 per cent mentioning other environmental problems.

In total 13,353 citizens in 26 countries were interviewed face-to-face, online (for Japan only), or by telephone between June 24 and September 18, 2010. Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan and its research partners in each country. In nine of the 26 countries, the sample was limited to major urban areas. The margin of error per country ranges from +/- 3.0 to 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

For more details, please visit www.GlobeScan.com as well as the GlobeScan Insights blog at http://globescaninsights.blogspot.com.

Media Contacts

For media interviews with the participating pollsters, please contact:

Sam Mountford, Research Director
GlobeScan Incorporated, London
+44 20 7928 5368
(Mobile: +44 78 5413 2625)

Oliver Martin, Director Global Development
GlobeScan Incorporated, Toronto
+1 416 969 3073
(Mobile: +1 416 721 3544)

GlobeScan Incorporated is an international opinion research consultancy. We provide global organisations with evidence-based insight to help them set strategy and shape their communications. Companies, multilateral institutions, governments, and NGOs trust GlobeScan for our unique expertise across reputation management, sustainability and stakeholder relations. GlobeScan conducts research in over 90 countries, is ISO 9001-2008 certified and a signatory to the UN Global Compact.

Established in 1987, GlobeScan is an independent, management-owned company with offices in Toronto, London and San Francisco. www.GlobeScan.com.

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