Poll: What Are The World’s Biggest Problems?​

By Douglas Patz

It seems these days that the world is plagued with issues. Everyday we hear news stories about rising temperatures, people starving, and mass murderers running rampant. It seems like there is no hope for the world. But I wanted to see what Mei users thought about all this. So I sent out a poll with two questions. Question one was “what do you think is the world’s biggest problem?” And question two was “do you think the world has gotten better or worse since 1980?” The results were quite interesting.

First let’s see what people think is the world’s worst problem. And it seems we have a clear front-runner: climate change. Having a whopping 38% selection rate, its clear climate change is most definitely a large worry for Mei users. Only 12% of poll respondents chose the second most popular answer: financial inequality. So it seems climate change can rest easy knowing it won’t be losing its number 1 spot anytime soon. War is third place with 9%, hunger is only sitting at 6%, and lack of clean water has around 3%.

Looking closer at the stats it seems like gender does not affect your choice of the world’s worst problem much at all. Age on the other hand does seem to have a significant effect on your choice. 47% of teenagers think climate change is the world’s worst problem, 9% higher than the average for all ages. Teenagers only seem to rate financial inequality at 6%, instead of 12%, which is the average for all ages. Perhaps because they haven’t dealt with finances much yet?

Climate change seems to be less of a problem the older you get with 30–50 year olds only choosing climate change 25% of the time. I suppose if you’re dead before climate change becomes a problem you shouldn’t have to worry too much. 18% of 30–50 year olds chose financial inequality as the world’s biggest problem. But the stat that surprised me the most was the correlation between wealth, and the choosing of financial inequality. Which is to say there is no correlation, it seems like rich and poor alike put financial inequality at around the 10% mark.

Even though I included 11 possible answers, the poll received a large amount of answers in the “none of the above” category, around 15% of respondents. Looking through some of the freeform answers, we can see some of the common occurrences are corruption, capitalism, waste of resources, incorrect media, and lack of god. One person even wrote, “fighting over the worlds biggest problem”. Apart from that one answer there weren’t many funny responses. I guess people don’t like to joke about the world’s biggest problems.

Now let’s take a look at question number 2 “has the world gotten better or worse since 1980?” Well, it seems like people think it has gotten mostly worse. With 45% of people saying the world has deteriorated, 31% saying it has gotten better, and 16% thinking it stayed the same. Like the first question, gender has minimal impact on your answer. Unsurprisingly the older you are the worse you think the world has gotten. Only 41% of People 13–29 think that the world has gotten worse, but a whole 56% of people 30+ think the world has gotten significantly worse since 1980. Is this just nostalgia talking, or are the people who really experienced the 80s speaking the truth?

So what’s the takeaway from all this? Is climate change the biggest problem facing the world? Have problems like hunger, famine, and disease, been solved? Is the world doomed to die? Well, not necessarily, we have to remember that the people answering this poll are English speakers with phones. So people without any food are unlikely to have a phone to answer this poll. All we know from this poll is what Mei users perceive to be the world’s worst problem, not necessarily what is actually the worlds worst problem. But even though this poll might not tell us what the best course of action for the world is, it sure does provide some interesting results.