Is the world becoming a more dangerous place?
We were interested in building an understanding of whether the UK population consider the world to be becoming more dangerous.
As a nation we have experienced historical threats and challenges that were traumatic and far reaching in consequence - you only have to look at the last two world wars to appreciate that. However these events no longer reside in the majorities' collective memories, and as such they can no longer be used as a comparative benchmark for individual personal perspectives.
We have, in recent years been exposed to different 'dangers', whether that be domestic and international terrorism, new biological weapons, climate change, cultural destruction, food supply chain threats, uncontrolled immigration, threats posed by artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and big-pharma or the more general sense that our democracy is grinding to a halt.
There are in addition many dangers that have been present for centuries such as war, poverty, famines, crime, disease and natural disasters. Perhaps these issues, or at least a heightened awareness of them, is causing increased concern?
We also cannot ignore the rising issue of conspiracy theories. Some of these theories may be closer to the truth than mainstream news acknowledges, others have genuine foundations in facts, but may distort or exaggerate specific elements, whilst others are complete fabrications. These theories may also be a root cause of increasing anxiety that the world is increasingly dangerous - maybe on the edge of disaster.
In our survey of the UK population we asked the question "To what extent do you agree or disagree that the world becoming a more dangerous place", with the results below:
|Strongly disagree||2 %||3 %||2 %||3 %||2 %||1 %||2 %|
|Slightly disagree||10 %||13 %||7 %||11 %||9 %||12 %||9 %|
|Slightly agree||40 %||41 %||39 %||42 %||40 %||45 %||35 %|
|Strongly agree||44 %||39 %||48 %||36 %||44 %||39 %||51 %|
|Don’t know||5 %||4 %||5 %||8 %||6 %||3 %||3 %|
|NET: Agree||83 %||80 %||86 %||78 %||83 %||84 %||86 %|
|NET: Disagree||12 %||16 %||9 %||14 %||11 %||13 %||12 %|
So what does this data reveal?
- 83% of the population perceive the world to be becoming increasingly dangerous.
- The majority of people across both sexes and all age groups share this perspective (all of our demographic data reflects this)
- There is a slight leaning towards females perceiving the world as increasingly dangerous, although it is a view clearly held by both sexes.
- There is correlation between age and agreeing with the statement - the older you are the more likely you are to perceive the world to be becoming increasingly dangerous.
We also collected data regarding household income, which is displayed below:
|Less than £20,000||£20,000 to £39,999||£40,000 to £59,999||£60,000 or more|
|Strongly disagree||3 %||2 %||2 %||2 %|
|Slightly disagree||8 %||9 %||11 %||17 %|
|Slightly agree||34 %||39 %||49 %||38 %|
|Strongly agree||49 %||46 %||36 %||38 %|
|Don’t know||5 %||4 %||3 %||5 %|
|NET: Agree||84 %||85 %||85 %||76 %|
|NET: Disagree||11 %||11 %||13 %||19 %|
So what does this additional data reveal?
- There is a clear correlation between the perspective that the world is becoming a more dangerous place and household income - the lower your income the more likely you are to perceive the situation as becoming more dangerous.
- This correlation may be due to those on lower incomes having less of a financial buffer to insulate them from any form of challenge or crisis, and as a consequence needing to stay more awake to potential risks - although this is just conjecture.
So is the world actually getting more dangerous?
It is impossible to say for certain, but looking cumulatively at all the challenges we are now facing there is the general sense that we are at the dawn of a new era - one that carries with it opportunities to make the world a better place, but also introduces almost existential risks to our societies, communities and lives.
If this topic interests you further, we recommend you read Current Risks & Challenges facing UK society - our Top 50 to explore the wide variety of threats we are currently facing.