Unemployment is world's fastest-rising fear - survey


In many countries, unemployment has shot up as a key concern

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Unemployment is the world's fastest-rising worry, a BBC World Service survey covering 11,000 people in 23 countries suggests.

The annual poll, called The World Speaks, gave people a list of concerns and asked which they had discussed with friends or family in the past month.

Corruption and poverty still ranked the highest, but unemployment was mentioned by 18% - six times the rate citing it in the first survey in 2009.

The poll was carried out by Globescan.

The growth in concern was found across all countries surveyed, although corruption emerged as the most talked about global concern.

Nearly a quarter of those asked had discussed that topic in some form over the past four weeks.

Young jobless

Next came extreme poverty. One in five had talked about that subject recently.

Issues associated with inflation, such as higher food and energy prices, were on level pegging with unemployment in third place - with both topics mentioned by 18% of those surveyed.

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High youth unemployment is one of the biggest problems confronting societies around the world, condemning whole generations to a life of much reduced income.

In our special report we look at the challenges facing today's young and jobless, and the attempts to overcome the problem.

In graphics: youth unemployment

Special report: Young & Jobless

Concern about joblessness seemed to vary by country.

Top of the list was Spain, where 54% of those sampled said they had discussed unemployment recently, an increase of one-third on the previous year's BBC poll.

Spain is at the heart of the debt crisis in the eurozone and has the highest youth unemployment in the region at greater than 40%.

Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria and Turkey were among the other countries where this topic appeared a particular concern, with a third or more of those sampled saying they had discussed the issue in the month before the survey.

One could speculate that growing concern about the lack of jobs is linked to current economic worries, such as financial problems for euro currency and the resulting slowdown of major economies.

But there is no certainty about this.

The first annual survey published in 2009 coincided with possibly even greater economic global turbulence linked to the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Corruption and poverty emerge as hardy perennials of global debate.

All three annual surveys carried out so far have shown these topics to be near the top of the list.

Regional differences

But the latest results show considerable differences between countries in the issues people find important.

In the US, France and Japan - all wealthy, developed nations - the state of the world economy emerged as the main talking point.

By contrast, corruption was the most frequently discussed issue in Nigeria, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria and Peru.

These are all developing nations, most with poor reputations for transparency in government and business.

In another group of developing countries, including China, Russia, Kenya and the Philippines, rising prices for food and energy were the main topic.

In Latin America, however, crime and violence emerged as commonly discussed themes.

Indeed in Brazil, famous for social tensions in its urban slums, along with Ecuador and Mexico, noted for drugs-related killings, crime and violence were the most talked-about subjects.

Changing perceptions

People in developed nations appeared more concerned about the longer-term, less immediate threat associated with climate change than those sampled in poorer, developing economies.

But almost everywhere global warming had slipped down the ranking of issues discussed in the last month.

The topic was the most frequently talked about issue in 10 nations in last year's survey, but this year climate change topped the list only in Germany and Britain.

Fieldwork for the latest poll was carried out between July and September of this year by the polling firm Globescan on behalf of the BBC.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Wow! A real Luddite in this day and age! Perhaps we can bring back child labour, the workhouse, and smallpox - who needs progress?

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    Machines that replace people are getting cheaper, wages are getting more expensive.

    The minimum wage should be scrapped and be replaced by a workplace subsidy paid for by a tax on machines that replace people.

    If employing people became cheaper while buying machines that create unemployment became more expensive, we could have full employment again - if well balanced there would be no real cost!

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    To Marie who talks about the myth that the UK doesn't make anything anymore. The UK does make things, but it primarily makes it for itself. We just don't make anything in high volume and export it. We may sell the odd expensive boat or Rolls Royce, but we don't export much clothing, food, technology.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    "fatcatboys"-but Private debt and asset prices (6/7 times salary) needs to be reduced.
    Yes but the price of everything is artificially high especially houses.The solution isn't straightforward,the financial aspect in particular but you won't solve today's problems using today's solution.Ultimately you have to look at the economy and decide what's it's really for, at the moment we are slaves to it

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Out of university 25 years ago I couldn t even find a job cleaning the streets. A little money from my grandmother and I baught a very small old house. Lived in it ate soup fixed it up and sold it and baught my next house and did the same. I haven t made a fortune. But I v survived and I have 10 studio apartments today and can live off that. Be independent I say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Strange how the Grauniad manages to get everything back to front...

    But I would agree that our schools are not geared to the employment requirements of tomorrow. Mind you, I find it strange that we actually tolerate illiteracy in this day and age. Such people are virtually unemployable in any job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    11 Minutes ago
    Technology is replacing human labour ..The real solution to the problem is actually job sharing or reducing the working week. We don't all need to work 5 days a week for 40 years anymore.
    Agreed - but Private debt and asset prices (6/7 times salary) needs to be reduced. The price of money is too cheap. Correct this and the bubble deflates

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    Nimrod2 - "So we will need to earn less too then" Products are artificially high to maintain profits for shareholders. Prices should directly reflect the cost of production which will drop. The whole concept of investment is a short sighted scheme and is unsustainable. Society/economies in general need to advance in line with technology. You can't have one advance and not the other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    One of my neighbours grows vegetables and keeps chickens. The really nice thing about it is he looks happy. For anyone who likes gardening it's got to be worth considering. Too many of us have lawns that require almost as much care and attention but produce no food.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Nimrod2 @ 152: "Bob Crow is a shining example of all that is bad with Unions."

    He is elected by his members to represent them. Presumably they're quite happy with him. I'm not particularly a fan of Crow – but you may find this informative and educative: http://goo.gl/RSqCM

    Talking of education , this was what schools used to provide. Then employers would provide specific job training.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    "Technology is replacing human labour and is also becoming more and more advanced and integrated. Less products will be sold and fewer people required to make them. The real solution to the problem is actually job sharing or reducing the working week. We don't all need to work 5 days a week for 40 years anymore."

    So we will need to earn less too then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    There remains remarkable reluctance among economists & government to confess that the economic sins of the 1980s have been repeated in a process of economic change that is not a redefining of the economy but is its gradual erosion & destruction. One of the problems the irresponsible idea of economics as natural evolution, to reliance on service sector, fiscal sector & that is its bad management.

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Why won't any politican acknkowledge the real reason why job are becoming scarce? Technology is replacing human labour and is also becoming more and more advanced and integrated. Less products will be sold and fewer people required to make them. The real solution to the problem is actually job sharing or reducing the working week. We don't all need to work 5 days a week for 40 years anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    148. PFC_Kent @ 148: "Im not quite sure what point you are trying to make but I am speaking as someone with experience of being in Unions."

    So have I, dear. And I have experience of working in non-unionised environments that have been massively abusive and exploitive.

    Now, where was your evidence of trade union leaders' "hypocrisy"?

    You must have some, surely? If not, why did you post it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    As others have said, we need our University educated people but we also need people like my brothers & cousins who did apprentiships a generation or so ago. No one seems to value our sparkies, carpenters & plumbers but they are important trades. Without young people being given the opportunity to learn these trades there'll be a massive shortage of useful skills when the present crop retire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Gov. debt is not 1/6 of total debt in uk
    Private debt is 5/6 of total debt in uk
    Private debt is the issue - the price of money is the issue.

    If this is not fixed we will still be in the same place in 20 yrs time.

    Raise interest rates - should have been on an upward trend 2 yrs ago.

    Merv?? stop swerving - fix it or resign and let someone else do it

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Global employment has almost certainly risen, primarily as China grows, however Chinas rise means unemployment elsewhere.

    A chilling reality, things will never be the same, as lots of production shifts to China, & populations grow.

    Robert Pestons 'The Party's Over explained it'.

    We must learn to accept less. I earn less than 10 yrs ago, but am grateful to have that having experienced nothing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    48. donttrustthegovernment
    I have to ask (no offence intended) - what qualifications do you have? and what sort of jobs are you applying for? I have spoken to a few people claiming to be in your position recently and on closer inspection many have had dated qualifications or skills no longer valued.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Suzkid @ 192 My brothers may not work in 'the white heat of technology' but they work hard in jobs which are British based, take pride in what they do & are part of what is still good about Britain.
    People dismiss all too easily British workers & anything this country still manages to make. It gets them off the hook to buy cheaper, frequently inferior quality foreign imports.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    "It's all the unions' fault, it's the foreigners' fault, it's the miners' fault, it's hoodies' fault, it's benefit cheats' fault, it's [insert Daily Mail scapegoat here] fault!"

    One of these days, you lot will wake up and realise your future has been sold down the river along with those of everyone else...


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