The World's Greatest Fears, Mapped by Country

A poll finds that people in the Middle East see religious and ethnic hatred as their biggest threat; Europeans and Americans are more concerned about inequality.

The mushroom cloud from the first test of a hydrogen bomb, 1952 (Reuters)

The biggest fear among the Japanese is, unsurprisingly, nuclear weapons. People in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda are most worried about AIDS and other diseases. And inequality is the deepest concern for much of Europe and the U.S.

These are among the findings of Pew Research Center’s survey of more than 48,000 people in 44 countries this spring (so, it’s worth noting, pre-Ebola epidemic). The survey asked people to choose among five categories of threat: AIDS and other diseases, nuclear weapons, pollution and environment, inequality, and religious and ethnic hatred.

Here are those 44 countries, mapped by their greatest fears:

The Threats People Around the World are Worrying About Most

Click for full-sized image. (Pew Research Center/Quartz)

By region, people in the Middle East saw religious and ethnic hatred as their biggest threat; European and U.S. respondents saw the gap between the rich and poor as theirs; pollution and environmental issues caused the most dread in Asia; Latin America mostly feared nuclear weapons; and Africans saw AIDS and other diseases as their greatest danger.

A few other things we noticed:

  • Other than Japan, the countries that saw nuclear weapons as their biggest danger included Russia (29 percent), Ukraine (36 percent), Brazil (28 percent), and Turkey (34 percent).
  • The U.K.’s greatest concern was religious and ethnic hatred (39 percent), putting it in the same group as India (25 percent), Israel (30 percent), the Palestinian territories (40 percent), Lebanon (58 percent), and Malaysia (32 percent).
  • People in France were equally divided on what they consider the biggest threat, with 32 percent saying inequality and the same percentage saying religious and ethnic hatred.
  • Likewise in Mexico, nuclear weapons and pollution were tied as most menacing, at 26 percent.