It’s certainly no surprise that “access and affordability to healthcare” and “communicable/infectious disease containment and prevention” were tied as the top two priorities of people worldwide during the COVID crisis, according to a new global survey. Unfortunately, it may be no less surprising that the third most pressing concern is “corruption and transparency,” as citizens became frustrated with government’s handling of COVID-19 around the globe.
The Milken Institute and The Harris Poll recently released the findings of a joint research program called “The Listening Project”—revealing a global void in leadership as the pandemic has killed more than one million people worldwide and has crippled international economies. Then results of the global survey, which was conducted in two phases (before and during COVID-19) among nearly 30,000 people across 27 countries, demonstrate the widespread lack of support for how countries have handled COVID-19.
- Globally, 71 percent of respondents said “this is the lowest point in my country’s history.”
- Nearly two-thirds of people say that “their leaders are out of touch with the rest of the country” (63 percent) and that “the people running the country don’t really care what happens to me” (62 percent).
- Out of 12 countries surveyed in September, in only three (Malaysia, China, and India) did more than half of the respondents strongly support their country’s handling of the pandemic.
- In the U.S., only 29 percent of respondents strongly support the country’s response.
“The striking conclusion from our survey is while COVID-19 is a public health crisis, it has also been a contagion across many other socio-economic challenges and government institutions,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, in a news release. “Maybe even more than the virus, our common crippling hardship is the lack of leadership being observed on the world stage. It is inherent upon our leaders both in government, and in business, to unify and collectively refocus their priorities to provide stability and certainty to their stakeholders.”
Additional key findings include:
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the world’s socio-economic challenges
Nearly every issue gained intensity from February to September: Communicable/infectious disease containment and prevention (+21 points), access and affordability to healthcare (+20 points), access and affordability to education (+19 points), corruption and transparency (+17 points), climate change and environmental degradation (+15 points), systemic injustice and inequality (+13 points), urban development and infrastructure (+13 points), violent conflicts and terrorism (+6 points), and poverty and deprivation of human needs (+1 point).
Businesses have stepped up to meet the moment
Our data indicates businesses are outperforming local governments with 61 percent of people globally saying, “companies have been more reliable than the government in keeping my country running during COVID-19.” Across all countries surveyed, companies are seen as more reliable and trustworthy than their governments and are given a new charge to speak out and solve socio-economic challenges.
The shift towards virtual learning led to increased urgency in access and affordability to education, which moved from #7 in February to #4 in September
About two out of three people globally (64 percent) agreed this is an urgent issue for them to solve personally.
The biggest increase in urgency is financial vulnerability, which moved from #10 globally in February to #5 in September
With global economies in flux, financial vulnerability (61 percent) rose more than 20 percentage points. Nearly seven in 10 people (69 percent) currently fear losing their job due to the pandemic. Over eight in 10 people (86 percent) globally now say we are in a global recession, while one-third (33 percent) say their country will go into a recession within six months. In every country surveyed, at least two-thirds of respondents assessed the economic impacts of the pandemic as having a bigger effect on their lives than the virus itself.
In all, “The Listening Project” surveyed a total of 29,125 adults in 27 countries between February and October 2020. The initial survey from February surveyed 10,125 adults in 27 countries asking them to determine which needs out of 48 were the most important to them, their family, and their community. The survey was fielded once again from mid-September to October 2 among another 19,000 people in 12 countries. These countries were picked based on varying levels of COVID-19 impact, with six focused on countries that have felt the brunt of the pandemic.