The survey by the Gothenburg University-based SOM Institute, a centre which investigates society, public opinion and media, asked around 20,000 people what issues or phenomena worried them the most.
Top of the list were climate change and increased antibiotic resistance. Nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) said they found these issues “very concerning” for the future.
The survey was carried out before the deadly truck attack in Stockholm on April 7th, but a total of 48 percent said they found terrorism very concerning. Next in the top-five were pollution of the environment (47 percent) and increased xenophobia (45 percent), both hotly debated topics in Sweden.
The gap between the top-five and other issues Swedes said worried them was notable. In sixth place came “increased number of refugees”, which 37 percent said they found very concerning, followed by the housing shortage (35 percent) and increased work-related stress (34 percent).
At the bottom of the list, which was presented at a seminar on Tuesday, came global epidemics, which only nine percent said they were very concerned about for the future, a new world war (10 percent), financial crisis (11 percent), widespread corruption (12 percent) and armed conflicts (15 percent).
“It is very hard to say why concern about a particular subject increases,” said Maria Solevid, a political scientist at Gothenburg University, but adds that media coverage is a factor. Antibiotic resistance, for example, has grabbed headlines in the past year which may explained why it zoomed to the top.
The survey, which was carried out in autumn and winter last year, asked people to rank specific issues from “very concerning” to “not at all concerning”. When the question was left open and people were instead asked “what do you perceive as most concerning for the future?” integration/immigration came top (25 percent, down from 28 percent in 2015) followed by EU/international issues (seven percent).