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Why are US residents feeling more unsafe?

Almost two in five people (39%) in the USA feel less safe than they did five years ago – up from 27% in 2019 – a new global report shows.

The report is from the second edition of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation World Risk Poll, powered by Gallup, which consists of research with more than 125,000 people across 121 countries.

The World Risk Poll report - A Changed World? Perceptions and experiences of risk in the Covid agefocuses on people’s experiences with, and perceptions of, commonly faced risks across the globe. These include workplace harm, crime and violence, and road traffic collisions.

In this edition of the Poll, 65% of people in the USA said they were worried about violent crime as a threat to their safety, with a four-percentage-point increase (from 22% to 26%) in people feeling ‘very worried’ compared to 2019. This put worry about crime second to concern about road traffic collisions (73%). However, the number of people who have, or know someone who has, personally experienced harm from violent crime has dropped from 25% in 2019 to 22% this in 2021.

Meanwhile, despite being hard hit by the pandemic, with more cases and reported deaths than any other country, only 5% of US respondents named Covid-19 as the greatest threat to their safety. As the report explains, this could be at least partially due to other significant national events which occurred before or during data collection, such as the murder of George Floyd or the attack on the Capitol in January 2021, affecting responses.

62% of respondents said they were worried about weather-related harm, with almost three quarters (74%) of respondents agreeing climate change is a threat to people in USA in the next 20 years, and just over half (51%) calling it a ‘very serious’ threat.

Dr Sarah Cumbers, Director of Evidence and Insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “The World Risk Poll is designed to provide insight for policymakers into which risks are most affecting the lives of populations across the world, and our findings will help them work with communities to make people safer.

“The Poll provides a unique resource to analyse both global and regional trends. As the US climate envoy, John Kerry, revealed that President Joe Biden is considering announcing a climate emergency, it’s clear from the results that most people in the USA are also concerned about the impact of climate change on their own safety.

“The number of people who worry about being hurt by road crashes and crime, even in the midst of a pandemic, clearly demonstrates the importance of government and other policymakers accounting for other the other everyday risks populations face when responding to such emergencies.”

Download a copy of the report here. Country-specific data snapshots are also available, including for the USA.

Funding is available from Lloyd’s Register Foundation for further research and interventions using World Risk Poll data to reduce risk. To find out more, visit the World Risk Poll website.

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