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Which Global Risks Have Worsened During the Pandemic?

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What Global Risks Have Worsened Since COVID-19

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The Briefing

  • A new report from WEF found that social cohesion and overall livelihood have worsened the most since the start of the pandemic
  • Policy measures and economic impacts from COVID-19 have exacerbated inequality, which has increased polarization and resentment among communities

The Global Risks That Have Gotten Worse Since COVID-19

Each year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) puts together its Global Risks Report, an analysis of the top risks that pose a threat to the world.

The report includes data from nearly 1,000 surveyed leaders, across various organizations and regions. In this year’s report, respondents were asked which global risks have gotten worse since the start of the pandemic.

Here’s what they said.

Social Threats

According to respondents, the erosion of social cohesion is the global risk that has intensified the most since the start of the global pandemic. The WEF defines this as the loss of social capital or social stability.

RiskCategory% of respondents
Social cohesion erosionSocietal27.8%
Livelihood crisesSocietal25.5%
Climate action failureEnvironmental25.4%
Mental health deteriorationSocietal23.0%
Extreme weatherEnvironmental22.7%
Debt crisesEconomic13.8%
Cybersecurity failuresTechnological12.4%
Infectious diseasesSocietal10.9%
Digital inequalityTechnological10.5%
Backlash against scienceSocietal9.5%
Biodiversity lossEnvironmental8.4%
Geoeconomic confrontationsGeopolitical8.2%
Human environmental damageEnvironmental7.8%
Youth disillusionmentSocietal7.1%
Interstate relations fractureGeopolitical7.0%
Prolonged stagnationEconomic6.9%
Asset bubble burstEconomic6.7%
Social security collapseSocietal6.2%
Involuntary migrationSocietal5.4%
Adverse tech advancesTechnological5.3%
Tech governance failureTechnological4.5%
Geopolitical resource contestationGeopolitical4.4%
Digital power concentrationTechnological4.3%
Public infrastructure failureSocietal4.2%
Industry collapseEconomic4.1%
Price instabilityEconomic3.3%
Commodity shocksEconomic3.0%
Interstate conflictGeopolitical2.9%
Natural resource crisesEnvironmental2.7%
State collapseGeopolitical2.6%
IT infrastructure breakdownTechnological2.4%
Multilateralism collapseGeopolitical2.2%
Illicit economic activityEconomic2.2%
Pollution harms to healthSocietal1.9%
Terrorist attacksGeopolitical1.6%
Geophysical disastersEnvironmental0.8%
Weapons of mass destructionGeopolitical0.3%

Inequality existed long before COVID-19, but the pandemic has only made things worse.

For example, employment recovery has been uneven across the United States. High-wage workers have seen employment rates bounce back fairly quickly after their Spring 2020 slump, while low-wage workers haven’t recovered at the same rate.

As of August 2021, employment rates for those making below $27K a year were still down 25% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Environmental Threats

In addition to societal threats, a couple environmental risks made it to the top of the list as well. Both Climate action failure and extreme weather were in the top five.

Considering how difficult it’s been for international governments to collaborate on COVID-19 relief efforts, respondents feel less than optimistic that we’ll manage to seamlessly deal with the chaos that could come from environmental risks, which are similarly complex.

Which global risk do you think has worsened the most since the start of the pandemic?

Where does this data come from?

Source: WEF Global Risks Report 2022
Details: Data in this report is from the The Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), the World Economic Forum’s source of original risks data. Survey responses were collected from 8 September to 12 October 2021. See the report for full details on methodology.

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