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7 Nov, 2014

Pew Research: Crime, Corruption Top Problems in Emerging and Developing Countries

Pew Research Centre News Release, 05 Nov 2014 — Crime and corruption, common scourges of modern societies, top the list of problems cited by publics in emerging and developing nations, according to the findings of a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted in 34 countries among 38,620 respondents from March 17 to June 5, 2014.

Crime and Corruption Are Top Problems in Emerging and Developing Nations

A median of 83% of people across 34 emerging and developing economies say crime is a very big problem in their country, and 76% say the same about corrupt political leaders. Many also worry about issues such as health care, poor quality schools, water and air pollution, and food safety. Generally, electricity shortages and traffic are seen as less pressing issues.

People in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East all see crime and corruption as the greatest problems in their countries, according to the Pew Research Center survey.

Moreover, crime and corruption as well as poor quality schools are considered growing problems in these emerging and developing countries. Taking the median across the 20 countries surveyed in 2007/2008 and 2014, the number of people citing these three issues as a very big problem has jumped from 64% to 74% for crime, 63% to 73% for corruption and 38% to 51% for poor quality schools.

In nearly all these countries, the list of key challenges exist alongside economic problems including jobs, rising prices and public debt (see Global Public Downbeat about Economy, published September 9, 2014).

When asked to rate key institutions in their countries, people generally assign high marks to the military, with a median of 79% saying it has a good influence on the way things are going in their country. But most major national organizations and groups, such as the media, religious leaders, banks, corporations, the national government and civil servants also get positive marks. Emerging and developing publics are less enamored with their court systems – the only institution polled which receives support from less than half of respondents.

Overall, there have been only slight changes in views of these national groups and institutions since 2007, but within a few countries there have been dramatic swings in opinion. For instance, in Turkey, where President Erdogan has made weakening the influence of the military on civilian government a top priority, support for the armed forces has sharply declined in the last seven years.

In the Middle East, a median of just 40% say that religious leaders are having a good influence on their country, and there has been a sharp loss of confidence in religious leaders among Jordanians, Turks, Egyptians and Palestinians since 2007, and among Tunisians in the last two years.

But in Argentina, there is a double-digit gain in ratings for religious leaders (+26) since 2007, likely related to the elevation to the papacy of their own Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis just last year.

Click here to download the full report.