Swiss Re Survey Finds Most People Believe World is Getting Riskier

September 3, 2013

A key finding from a landmark survey commissioned by Swiss Re on the occasion of its 150th anniversary, has found that “people around the world say they’re acutely aware of the risks they may face in the future, and are ready to shoulder the financial burden personally. At the same time, respondents of the survey want their political leaders to do more to tackle a riskier world ahead.”

Swiss Re listed the following “key findings” from the survey:
•70 percent of respondents are prepared to take personal responsibility for their own retirement costs
•84 percent think that climate change will be responsible for more natural disasters in the future
•Nearly 8 in10 fear damage from an earthquake, flood or other natural disaster within the next 20 years
•75 percent would use renewable energy if it were made available
•91 percent want governments to do more to promote energy efficiency
•Hunger is a major concern, not just in the developing world

The 150th anniversary survey was conducted by Gallup, the consulting, polling and research organization, which “spoke with nearly 22,000 citizens across 19 markets on five continents, aged 15 and above. The survey was carried out in April and May 2013. Under the motto ‘Open minds – connecting generations.'” Swiss Re said its aim is to “foster a dialogue about risks and how society and generations are to tackle them in the future.

“People were asked what concerns them most, including ageing, climate change, natural disasters, energy and food supplies. Almost everyone is worried about prospects for the economy. Concerns about global warming and natural disasters are also widespread.

“Most respondents say they are well aware of the risks they may face in future, and are willing to take action to address them – even if this is going to hit their own pocket. But many also say that government policy does not fully address the risks faced today and by future generations.”

Swiss Re’s Group Chief Risk Officer David Cole noted that the “findings show that individuals are willing to take as much responsibility as their leaders. The findings are a call for better co-operation between government and the private sector. It’s vital to prepare systematically for the future and make societies more resilient. That’s where Swiss Re also plays a key role with its risk expertise.”

In addition the survey analyzed people’s thoughts on “making ends meet in retirement and covering the sickness bill.” It found the following:
•The survey results show that, all over the world, self-reliance is seen as a key to coping with the risks of the future
•More would prefer to pay into a non-state pension plan to make ends meet during retirement (29 percent), retire later (19 percent) or cut back on spending once retired (22 percent) than rely on the state (13 percent)
•On funding long-term care for elderly relatives, roughly a third to a half across all markets and age groups say they would take out insurance to help cover the cost
•But large numbers, on average 43 percent, expect the government still to pay for universal healthcare; a further 35 percent say healthcare for the poor should be publicly funded

In addition, while there may be a few skeptics around, climate change worries a lot of people. The survey gave the following findings on those concerns:
•A majority of survey respondents feel threatened by the risk climate change poses to their community. 58 percent think that climate change will in future contribute to natural disasters ‘to a great extent’ or ‘to some extent’ and 26 percent ‘to a small extent.’
•77 percent fear being hit by a natural disaster in the next two decades – and many believe that the state would leave them with the bill for any damages
•But only a quarter (27 percent) thinks their government’s disaster preparedness is ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’

The survey also found that most people – 9 out of 10 – think money is “a limiting factor for green energy,” and they “want to see governments doing more to ensure efficient energy use. 3 in 4 people would use renewable energy if it were made available, but nearly half of them (48 percent) say they can’t afford to pay more.”

Lastly the survey concluded that “food waste and prices are the main culprits in food security,” with the following findings:
•90 percent think that many around the world do not have access to enough food and an overwhelming majority (80 percent) thinks that more food needs to be produced to feed everybody
•81 percent of respondents say that the main cause of food shortages is food waste
•66 percent think that shortages in their country are due to high prices suggesting that the public and private sectors need to do more to make food available to all.”

Cole added: “One striking and encouraging outcome of this survey is the broad agreement between young and old – both on how they perceive risks and how societies can best address the risks. This alliance between the generations is exactly what we need to create the inclusive, resilient communities of tomorrow.”

Swiss Re said it “aims to generate a dialogue about the biggest risks people and societies face. If you want to participate go to: and select and view the survey results in many different formats.” Share results on: and other online discussion platforms.

Source: Swiss Re

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